The Election Law: A Royal Statement to Start A Discussion

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 31 January / Jan 2018. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

During the King’s meeting with international relations students at the University of Jordan on Tuesday, His Majesty spoke about a bundle of political reforms.

An aspect of these reforms entails the reduction of the number of Representatives in Parliament from 130 MPs to 80, as it was in 1989.

Since it was made public, this statement was the centre of the media’s attention and the core of most discussions. It’s no surprise that this would entice so many politicians and analysts to speak their minds.

His Majesty’s opinion on this is not new to the Jordanian media, nor the political elite. This did not come out of the blue.

The main goal of the recent decentralised and municipal elected bodies is to relieve the House of the responsibility of decentralised service development and related issues of the governorates. This has been a concern for the state since it began developing political policy and legislation a few years ago.

The point is that MPs would now focus on legislation and monitoring government performance and agendas.

In the meantime, expanding representation to include more citizens from the governorates, in the decision-making process necessitates that the state reviews the role of Parliament. It should enable better representation on the national level.

Attainment of  this goal requires amendments to the election law.

Meanwhile, the recent constitutional amendments have constrained the executive authority’s role in terms of temporary laws and legislation. So the government would have to submit an amended election law to the House of Representatives in order pass any such amendments.

Most likely, the government will not tackle this issue in the nearer future.

Instead, the executive branch will probably wait out the current House, which was elected in 2016, and present its bill to a new one.

Technicalities aside, the reduction of the number of MPs in the House of Representatives would greatly enhance its performance and institutional bloc-party dynamics.

Overall, it should improve the outputs of Parliament as a whole.

However, the shortcoming of Parliamentary performance in Jordan is more related to the quality of MPs, rather than the quantity of representatives. This deserves some consideration.

It may very well be cause to revisit the election law, while we are at it.

Nonetheless, proportionate and quota representation is a huge step forward. We must not forfeit such an achievement. The implementation of this principle has not delivered the expected results. It requires fundamental development to serve the greater purpose of political reforms in Jordan.

His Majesty, during his meeting with the students, referred many times to the role of political parties and parliamentary blocs.

In fact, he confirmed that he has always been invested in the empowerment of party dynamics in Jordan. One aspect of His Majesty’s vision on the matter would be to merge parties so that a smaller number of parties would have a greater presence, while representing the main political currents across the country.

Once that is done, the King’s vision would entail a return to the implementation of Parliamentary Government, to give it another chance. The one time it was applied, it did add value to the political sphere, which is why it was suspended until a better political setting is ready to pillar a new value-added experiment.

Therefore, an overhaul of legislation should uphold a new dynamic that allows parties to compete effectively over the seats in parliament on the basis of proportional representation.

It is harmless to reopen this discussion, and perhaps collect suggestions to maybe put together a comprehensive plan for election reforms early on.

In fact, it may help the parties themselves accommodate the changes before the time of the elections.

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