Fahed Khitan

The New Voting Legislation... A Calculated Step Forward

تم نشره في Sun 21 February / Feb 2016. 11:18 PM

The heated parliamentary argument that took place yesterday over the new voting legislation, was not without meaning or worth; we are on the verge of passing a piece of legislation that will constitute a definitive change in the Country’s political scene, and will decisively reshape parliamentary life, identity, and government in Jordan for the next four years.

On the other hand, the bulk of suggested amendments proposed by parliamentary figures, parties, and women quota activists are not “evil”, at all. They are understandable thoughts and suggestions; who does not want a larger representation of women in parliament that accounts for at least one half of total parliamentary representation? Who would reject a voting system that unifies Jordanians under electoral lists that represent all political and social segments of the Country? And who does not want a parliament that produces a majority government accountable to opposition under the dome? We want that and more, especially since legislative reforms have been slow over the years, and remained within the constraints of the “single-vote” dynamic for more than two decades.

However, reformation is bent to the dynamics of realistic decisiveness, not to wants and wishes. The past five years gave us plenty of time to learn how to walk steadfast forward, but in calculated steps.This new bill of elections proposed to parliament is exactly that; a calculated step forward that paves the path for many wider steps in the future.

The real value of such a step is not measured by our own aspirations in terms of reforms; it is measured by what was before it. This is right comparison to be made. It wasn’t easy to overcome the “single-vote” and small electoral circle mechanisms; the current system was so deeply rooted in state discourses and minds that we all doubted the government would ever break the single-vote taboo.

But there is something about the way the government is running things now, that has changed fundamentally. The minds of the state realised that the system that served for all intents and purposes the necessities of the previous phase, no longer can carry onto the future of the coming one.

This transformation, mindfully, was not in isolation from other reformation steps prior to the submission of the new bill of elections, and following it surely. But the devastating fallouts of “Arab Spring” in the discourses of achieving democracy have shadowed over Jordan’s journey, and made gradualism the dominant philosophy that drives the Country’s progress towards reformation.

Accordingly, the majority of people agreed to the general correctness of these measures in order to avoid any uncalculated leaps into thin air and hedge the risks of further spill-over percussions from crises in neighbouring countries.

Moreover, as everyone realises the importance of election laws, it remains —however evolved; useless, if we do not work on conditioning the general environment to carry the best possible parliamentary representatives through the next elections into the halls of parliament. In this discourse, the general social environment is not fitting, at all, of more than what is on the table, and requires major “renovations” centred around a very important question for the state to answer: what is it that we want out of the coming elections?

The current bill is expected to be passed soon, and it is not the end of the rope; it is the very first round of a sustainable reformation that could pillar what is to come; for what is now unattainable and unacceptable will be within reach in four years, and that is how it goes, as far as reforms do.

For as from this day on, voting and election laws are no longer unchangeable; the options of amendment and betterment is now open, unlike how it was with the “single-vote” law.

Last but not least, legislation needs to heed the ever in-motion dynamics of progress and evolution, and there is no doubt that the coming parliament will return to discuss not only this now-proposed soon-passable bill of elections, but a variety of other laws as well, gradually paving the way into the future.