Has Demand on Democracy Declined?

By: Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 24 April / Apr 2016. 11:07 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

Participation rate in the latest Teachers Association elections indicates that the demand on democracy is scoring high highs; exceeding 70 per cent.

The Association is new; granted, compared to other associations in Jordan, but a considerable portion of its associates hope to aid teachers attain better living circumstances and preservation of their rights.

In other associations, however; things seem different. In the Doctors Association for example, with the elections concluded recently, and more than 11,000 of the 28,000 officially registered doctors eligible to vote, voting participation reached 41 per cent; that is 4,500 doctors out of 11,000.

Such a modest rate; especially when we are talking about an organisation that modules the most democratically enlightened middle-class representation, with thousands of experienced political and party activists.

In most artisan and professional associations and syndicates, participation rates hover around just below 50 per cent, with a growing withdrawal from participation or extensively lengthy reasons.

Yet, besides these reasons; amongst the youth here, there spreads a phenomenon that contradicts fundamentally with the decisive role this social segment played in the “Arab Spring” revolutions that tore across the Arab World 5 years ago; refraining from democratic practice, and sustaining away –completely, from participation in the public spheres; having been deeply disappointed with these revolutions and what they brought about in several parts of the Arab world.

The discourse of democratic transformation in Jordan, witnesses a fluctuation, illustratively speaking, on the line of popular participation in elections. In Jordan’s first elections since parliamentary life was restored in 1989, the demand on democracy was drastically increasing, with popular participation soaring.

However, with the greatening sense of the representation in parliament being uninfluential, and the stalement of the democratic process midway; more so, its recession, it is no wonder demand for democracy took a dive. Such a dive that it has driven authorities to sometimes manipulate participation numbers, instead of results, to raise participation rates.

As for associations; it seems that their politicisation by dominating political parties has pushed majorities to refrain from participating in elections, and stick to spectating.

Yet, this decrease of demand on democracy is not by far a Jordanian phenomenon, but a pan-Arab one, of sorts; it manifests clears in states today that have witnessed popular uprisings. Egypt for an instances, represents a unique model for democratic depression, in spite of all the incentives put out by authorities there.

The upcoming parliamentary elections in Jordan represent a test to the real weight of democracy to the people, on whether or not it is on demand or recess.