AMMAN — As the final countdown to the country’s historic parliamentary elections continues, voters and candidates are requested to bear the responsibility in ensuring that only qualified deputies make it to the Lower House, politicians and columnists said Wednesday.

Commenting on His Majesty King Abdullah’s remarks in an interview with The Jordan Times and Al Rai earlier this week, observers said that for the past 20 months, the country has been going through ups and downs on the path towards reform.

Yet, they said, whatever has been achieved represents only the beginning of a new stage that will reshape the political scene in the Kingdom.

Within that scope, politicians saw in King Abdullah’s statements a roadmap for the country’s political future.

“There is no final destination on the reform path. Reform is a process,” the King said in the interview.

Outlining his vision for parliamentary governments, the King said he expects the emergence of mature political parties that eventually align in a more distinctive right, left and centre, with each presenting their answers to issues of national concern.

Former Amman MP Mamdouh Abbadi told The Jordan Times that reform should not be limited to a certain set of measures.

“The country has been witnessing tough economic and political challenges coupled with the people’s thirst for change and democracy,” Abbadi said.

“We have seen divergence of views over the past months with regards to the shape of reform we want, but with the elections are just around the corner, we should think about the post-vote stage,” he said.

Abbadi said the King has constantly said that the upcoming parliamentary elections represent a gateway to the envisioned reforms rather than the last stop.

He stressed that all political spectra should engage in a serious process that takes the Kingdom into a new era of political life, where people will be the ones to decide who is most capable to take decisions that have direct impact on their daily lives and the lives of the generations to come.

“Working from under the Dome is more effective than staying in the streets. The new parliament will bear a heavy responsibility where it will be tasked primarily with pursuing the reform process initiated by the King,” Abbadi said.

“Having said that, it is the voters’ responsibility to give value to their voice via electing the right people who can take tough decisions and introduce the changes we all aspire to.”

“We are not new to parliamentary life, but I believe the upcoming one will be a landmark in the Kingdom’s history where the new government will be formed from a parliamentary majority,” he said.

Citing King Abdullah’s remarks over the lifespan of the post-elections governments, Abbadi believed that linking the government’s time in office to the majority in parliament will ensure sustainability of coalitions between blocs.

Columnist Jihad Momani said the King’s calls on all parties and segments to participate in the January 23 elections is a way out of the political impasse currently prevailing in the Kingdom.

Momani, who also hosts a political talk show on Jordan Television, said that the new parliament will be but the first step for reform where the second and more important step will be taken by the new House.

“Those [deputies] will be responsible before the people for their decisions, especially the ones pertaining reform,” he said.

“The Monarch made it very clear that the new parliament’s top priority should be putting the Elections Law for discussion in order to suggest amendments that meet the demands of the public and encourages their participation in the political process,” Momani noted.

Later comes the Constitution, he said.

“The King aspires to see the next government, which will be based on coalitions under the Dome, as a first step that builds for a strong partisan life in the country.”

“On that basis, all political parties should present their agendas to the public and encourage them to join their ranks,” Momani said, arguing that so far, no party has succeeded in offering solutions to the problems facing the country.

He said parties must change a years-long ideological behaviour which assumes that they always know better and the people know less.

Marwan Faouri, a member of the Islamic Centrist Party, told The Jordan Times that only the corrupt are afraid of parliamentary governments.

“They represent a source of strength to all elements of the state. Those who are fearful of this democratic practice are only the corrupt groups or individuals who aim to monopolise power to protect their personal gains,” Faouri said.

Engaging parliamentarians in the formation of governments makes them more determined and focused on fulfilling the demands of their electoral bases rather than pleasing the prime minister, he argued.

“The upcoming parliament will be tasked with taking very important decisions that will reshape the future of the country’s political life, therefore the voters are responsible to practise their constitutional right fairly and with responsibility to ensure that only the qualified can make it under the Dome.”

Former justice minister Ibrahim Omoush agreed, adding that the next parliament will take decisive decisions.

“The King repeatedly stressed that the elections will be run in a very neutral and fair manner with absolute integrity. Now the ball is in the public’s court to ensure that they do not submit to any pressure from unqualified individuals seeking their votes,” he said.