Revolution at the Lower House

تم نشره في Sun 22 June / Jun 2014. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Mon 23 June / Jun 2014. 05:44 PM

By Fahed Khitan

Since the election of the current parliament, King Abdullah II kept insisting that the Lower House substantially amends its rules of procedure.

He repeatedly — in his statements and interviews — considered this amendment a step for reform that is necessary, without which it is difficult to achieve broader reforms in the political and parliamentary life.

But among the political elite of Jordan, there were those who questioned the impact of such a move, even some considered it a marginal issue, raised to evade some fundamental benefits of reform.

The new House tried to operate as per the old rules of procedure. The situation was dire; "fights" and chaos under the dome that undermined the credibility of the Lower House in a record time.

Only then they realized the significance of the royal urgency for them to develop their regulatory tools, and no longer the elite questioned, at least out loud, the amendment reform value and the expected yield of the new rules of procedure.

A major stream within the Lower House took it seriously. After years of procrastination, which delayed efforts to open the rules of procedure, the House managed at its second session to complete a package of amendments that touched upon the rules of procedures mechanisms; it gave, and for the first time, some power to parliamentary blocs, and enhanced the position of the permanent committees in the creation of legislation, in addition to a series of operations that were updated in line with the requirements of the times.

However, the fundamental problem that remains unresolved is how to lessen the time the Lower House needs to maximize its achievement at the expense of useless debates under the dome.

In the last parliamentary session, the House re-open the file again, and its speaker offered a new package of amendments that affected key items in it, the most important of which was organizing the discussion of draft laws under the dome, so that has become imperative for the deputies to provide their proposals in writing rather than just saying them out loud. Additionally, the MPs are now able to review the agenda of the meetings five days before the session, and not two as was the case previously.

The House approved the second package, and its impact emerged rapidly on the performance of the House. Previously, it was not possible for the House to finalize, during a special session, more than one or two laws. After the recent amendments, the House has become able to approve, for example, a law as comprehensive as the investment law in a single session.

The current none-ordinary session is expected to continue until the end of the first week of next month, which allows the Lower House to accomplish more legislation on its agenda.

The popular criticism of the Lower House was that it spends a long parliamentary session without achieving anything, piling up legislations and laws for years. The amendments to the rules of procedure changed the picture completely, and the MPs have now achievements that they can defend, so perhaps that could contribute to their popularity.

@fahed_khitan

 

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.

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