Questions We Must Ask: Why the Low Turnout?!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 15 August / Aug 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

As usual in every electoral occasion, Amman and Zarqa come in last in the turnout scale in comparison to the rest of the governorates.

In Amman the turnout rate stood at 7 per cent, by 1PM, and 8 per cent in Zarqa.

During the Parliamentary Representative elections, the turnout rate in Amman did not exceed 20 per cent, as it is customary since the restoration of parliamentary life in Jordan.

Not much of a difference was seen in the elections based on the 1989 multi-vote elections system and the single-vote system, which dominated the electoral process for a while.

The same can be said about the proportional electoral system, the current one.

In fact, nothing has changed in these regards over more than 25 years.

Similarly, the voting turnout was insignificantly affected by the participation or boycotting of political currents and parties like the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

Even though constituencies in Amman have more seats in Parliament under the new law, this didn’t suffice to encourage people to vote.

Assuming this law does constituents in Amman and Zarqa considerable injustice, compared to other districts, these Municipal and Decentralised Elections, on the other hand, give citizens across the Kingdom equal rights in almost every aspect besides electing the Mayor.

Still, the turnout remains disappointing in the major cities, compared to the other governorates.

In yesterday’s article, Tuesday, Dr Mohammad Aburumman raised some serious questions, regarding the general Ammanis’ disinterest in elections.

These are questions we must ask.

Of course, giving Ammanis the right to elect the mayor of the capital will give the elections considerable momentum, and it will certainly become far more competitive.

It will probably also have political zest and flavour to it.

However, I am willing to bet that such a move, no matter how fundamental, will not be enough to significantly raise the voting turnout.

In Zarqa, for instance, constituents can actually elect their mayor. The turnout rate there is not any better than it is in Amman.

As for those who claim the obvious disinterested has to do with the level of quality residents of Amman receive, the fact is that Ammanis receive better services than Jordanians elsewhere. In Salt, Karak, and Maan, for example.

Such a premise is difficult but objectively indispensable to address; why the low turnout?

It must be observed and approached in retrospect, both historically and politically, to deconstruct the phenomenon and analyse the public’s behaviour.

No one gets to doubt the people’s sense of nationalism or belonging.

Society and social constructs are accumulative products of movement in motion through history, and the public awareness is built by things far more complicated and interrelated.

Over the decades, it became known as the citizenship and identity problem in Jordan, which also has to do with the relationship of the state with Jordanians of Palestinian descent.

Is the public’s abstention an active act to undermine the state? Does it have to do with the accumulative historical narrative which has detached components of our society from the state and the national identity? Or is an act of protest against the rights-duties dynamic which governs the state-citizen relationship?

Why distract ourselves with unnecessary questions? Why describe it as problematic? Why can it not be addressed as a natural outcome of our social components’ historical, cultural, and identity relationship with their homeland? This includes their right to return to Palestine.

To some, perhaps, this right surpasses all and any right the state may give them.

As you may already have noticed, I’m back to square one: difficult questions we must ask, without real, bold, sufficient answers.

Round and round we go, as many others have, including my colleague Aburumman and many before him!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.