There is no doubt that there is a real desire to conduct parliamentarian elections this year in Jordan. It is critical, however, that there is a fundamental change in the image of the parliament, which several recent polls suggest is facing widespread negative perceptions. Turning the national consensus around will not be easy, but an important first step is a strategy to include young people and encouraging them to participate in the upcoming elections.
There are various underlying reasons for the disillusionment with the parliamentary process, from the perception that key business figures dominate the work of the parliament through to practices and behaviours of some council members, which erode the legitimacy of the parliament.
The is a perceived absence of political and ideological depth from the council, which fosters mockery rather than respect. The public must understand what members of the house of representatives stand for, and understand how their actions and work will impact and improve the daily lives of all Jordanians. The Parliament needs respected figures, former officials, academics and activists whom the public believes will act on their behalf for the benefit of the whole country in order to restore trust and credibility.
The post-COVID economic rebuild and the plan for regional peace are two major issues that the Parliament must engage constructively on and lead. So, the coming elections are an opportunity to reset for a phase of restoration and rebuilding of the Jordanian national narrative that fortifies and unites through popular consensus. Jordan’s current leaders must embrace the addition of new charismatic political figures to end to the perception of traditional politicians squatting on their legislative power. This would send a clear message of change and political inclusion, which is critical.
All of the economic indicators suggest that Jordan is facing a critical moment, and the recent financial measures released by the government are creating widespread anger amongst Jordanians. Jordan needs clear, realistic steps forward, new tactics and new faces to successfully navigate the coming era.
It is important to recognise the pessimism about the possibility of a genuine political shift with the coming elections. The post-COVID economic hardship will also make it increasingly difficult to engage people to participate in politics and elections. So, it is critical to create a credible and transparent channel of dialogue to engage and build enthusiasm for the process, so people can exercise their democratic voice in their own representation.
While economic hardship is a serious issue, decision makers also need to consider the delicate regional situation and the potential implications for Jordan. Internal stability must be the major priority of Jordanian policymakers as social disorder could create fertile ground for serious security risks, including organised crime and terrorist groups, which could threaten internal security and stability.