Jordan is just less than three months away from having a decisive parliamentary election that is going to be a milestone in its history.
These elections, slated for January 23, 2013, will bring in a new legislature that is expected to continue the ongoing political reform process, and also a parliamentary government that will be the choice of the people since a parliamentary majority will form it.
In a landmark address to the Jordanian people last week, His Majesty King Abdullah said the next Parliament will be “the gate to comprehensive reform”.
“It is the institution constitutionally mandated to continue achieving true change and overcoming national challenges, by consolidating a democratic approach, the culture of dialogue and the highest standards of constructive debate,” the King said in last Tuesday’s speech to more than 3,000 personalities representing the mosaic of the Jordanian society, including civic, tribal and political leaders and many opposition figures.
Now the ball is in the people’s court. The coming parliaments and governments will be their choice. The shape of the reform process and the laws governing it in the future will also be their choice.
As His Majesty said, the next Parliament is expected to usher in a comprehensive reform that will build on achievements and improve them.
Those who are not satisfied with what was accomplished thus far should be the most active in the coming stage, attempting to introduce whatever improvements they see fit.
These include the opposition and members of the “herak”, or popular movements, that over the past two years have been calling for more reforms and expressing dissatisfaction with whatever political steps were taken.
The King paid tribute to these movements and their positive role in the reform process, but he also warned of “empty slogans, opportunism and manipulation of economic hardships and popular sentiments”.
These groups have to move from uttering slogans to acting, if they wish to make known their opinions or effect change.
His Majesty advised them to organise as quickly as possible and come up with candidate lists and electoral platforms for the upcoming four years of parliamentary life to explain to the public what policies and additional reforms they seek.
They have to explain how they plan to tackle poverty and unemployment, reduce public debt and the budget deficit, reform taxes, improve the voting system, solve the chronic water and energy problems, and ameliorate public services, said the King.
It is the citizens’ right to know how people who aspire to represent them in Parliament and government think about the way to resolve problems facing them and the country as a whole, not just with slogans, but with action plans. Once citizens know, they can be convinced to head to the ballot boxes, knowing that they are picking the best candidates for the job.
Time is running out; political parties, groups and activists should be working hard to prepare themselves for the upcoming stage.