The King’s Discussion Papers are back in the media and public opinion spotlight, especially the King’s sixth Discussion Paper.
His Majesty conveyed to the members of the House of Representatives, during a meeting a few days ago, that he felt His sixth Discussion Paper is not being addressed with the gravity it is owed.
The King’s Discussion Papers are of great importance.
It is vital that we agree on how we are going to approach these Papers; the methodology and the goals behind it. There is a lot of confusion among the political elite when it comes to addressing them.
There are currently seven published Royal Discussion Papers. The first five addressed the King’s view on the Jordanian political apparatus, the state institutions and the state-citizen relationship. All these papers outline the King’s futuristic view on democracy, and particularly the monarchy’s role as protector of the constitution, the concepts of parliamentary government, executive authority deliberation, the role of parties and parliament and effective citizenship.
As for the sixth and seventh papers, they address two main topics of daily consequence to Jordanians.
The Sixth addressed the concepts of the civil state and the rule of law, and the seventh addressed education, curriculum development, national dialogue and education reforms.
Above all, the point is that we need to understand the reasoning behind the King’s papers and its goals, which ultimately will help define the framework for Papers’ implementation. And the gateway to understanding them is what the King himself repeatedly said in his papers.
The King has always insisted that one of the greater strategies of his Papers is to encourage national and political dialogue. Be it in the process of democratic transformation or in regards to issues of public interest, like the civil state and education.
Personally, I think the importance of the King’s papers is that they help lay out for us the future in the King’s eyes, on so many levels, from democratisation, to party life, law and education.
That said, the more important question is: Why? The answer is this: even though the Jordanian constitution and standing legislation are indeed of monumental value, we still need a lot of clarification on various topics. This includes societal, national consensus, not only in regards to the regime, the political apparatus and its future, but the entire society, in terms of its identity and culture, and the citizen’s relationship with the state. All our standing legislation requires real cultural pillars and thorough national consensus to propagate and realise clarity.
Otherwise, we will never have a clear, united outlook on the future of Jordan. These papers help us figure out exactly where we stand, what we want, and how to get it!
Rightly so, some raise a fundamental question, which is “why aren’t the papers issued as binding legislation?”
The answer to that is that it isn’t possible. These papers discuss a number of overlapping issues that cannot be framed in law as is. It requires context and platforms to arrive at legal and legislative constructs that are the outcome of discussion, based on these papers, launching from unity, to legislation.
When His Majesty talks about education, curriculum, combating nepotism, developing parties, the concepts of democracy, pluralism, among other concepts to be the basis of national dialogue, these concepts should be the cornerstone of a nation-wide debate.
From this debate, we arrive at policies, party programmes, legislation, laws and bills.
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.