The other side of the deputies

تم نشره في Tue 5 May / May 2015. 12:00 AM

By Fahed Khitan

The image of the House of Representatives in the eyes of Jordanians is negative; the only thing stuck in their heads is the scenes of brawls under the dome, and the personal wrangling over minor issues, let alone the news of the loss of quorum in important meetings.

That is how the image was formulated, entrenching with it the feeling that the MPs are a burden on the State. Hence, calls for the House’s dissolution are widely accepted.

The results of opinion polls reflected that these impressions are strong; they showed consistently low level of public confidence in the House. It was interesting that the citizens' confidence in the government outweigh the House that they have elected. 

In a press conference the day before yesterday, House Speaker Engineer Atef Tarawneh tried to show the other side of the House. I think he was successful in that.

Tarawneh resorted to accurate data to display the achievements of the House, without generalizations. He presented statistics of the number of legislation done by the House, which was relatively large; and questions made by the House, as well as suggestions and requests for discussion.

He also pointed out that 95% of the sessions were reported with full quorum, as opposed to the prevailing impression in the media and among the public. Incidentally, the loss of a quorum is not the problem of the current House, but a chronic problem plaguing parliamentary life in Jordan.

The 11th House, (1989), one of the best Houses in the eyes of Jordanians, faced this problem. Its archive reveals numerous attempts made by the Speaker of the House to overcome this dilemma. Similar suggestions were made back then also, similar to the ones proposed now, that is imposing penalties on deputies who do not attend.

The House of Representatives, and within six months, held 61 meetings, accomplished 53 legislation, and asked 546 questions the government responded to the 445 of them; according to Tarawneh.

These facts are not present within the conversation when the citizens speak of the House of Representatives, and usually are content to see the dark side of the MPs.

Nobody is asked to overlook the negatives, or puff the House’s image and to cover up the wrong behaviors of some lawmakers. But evaluation requires seeing the image from all sides, to reach objective conclusions.

This is what the Speaker of the House tried to convey during at the press conference, through displaying the other side of the House. Is he trying to defend his Speakership? Maybe. Was he seeking to better the MPs image before the Jordanians? Sure.

It is natural that the Speaker of the House of Representatives does this. It is important that he did not try to circumvent the facts, but instead used data that cannot be manipulated.

Of the reasons that contributed to shattering the image of the current House are the individual practices of some of the deputies, which darkened the collective achievements. The Speaker of the House made a great effort to convince the public that the abnormal colors in the parliamentary image are not all the colors that are in there.

Does this defense convince the Jordanians, and make them fairer to the House of Representatives?

It is questionable; public opinion tends to be negative.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition