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Dramatic drop in government popularity

Oct 07,2018 - Last updated at Oct 07,2018

The latest poll taken by the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) suggests that the popularity of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz has dropped, from 55 per cent when he first took office three months ago, to a mere 30 per cent now.

This is, indeed, a very dramatic drop in the approval rate of the prime minister and this means that whatever he is doing is not what the country wants or approves of. It all boils down to the controversial tax law that Razzaz is offering the country, and the great majority of the public do not like what they see.

To a certain extent, the prime minister finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

Razzaz has ended his “honeymoon” that he enjoyed as a prime minister and the benefit of the doubt that was given to him has all but ended. Yet, Razzaz may salvage the popularity that he once enjoyed by acting more forcibly and effectively in steering the wheels of government. Razzaz needs to establish not only a charismatic presence, but a bold one.

When he took over, people had the belief that he would be running things differently, based their experience with him in the various posts that he had held before becoming prime minister, primarily  as education minister. He can still build on the image he had then, as close to the people, good at communicating his ideas and as a transparent official who shuns nepotism and favouritism.

The impression now is that he is not acting too differently from other prime ministers, in the manner of selecting his Cabinet members and in the manner of running his government. This impression could change, as the prime minister has not yet taken his chance to leave his mark on the work of his ministerial team. He is expected to come up with a reshuffle of his Cabinet soon, which would help show the public how serious he is in changing the government’s way of doing business. Then he still has to announce the tough austerity measures that some of his ministers were talking about, including reducing the fleet of public vehicles and, most importantly, showing seriousness in fighting corruption, big and small.

The government should not also look as if it was a one-man-show. The ministers should also leave their mark on the work of their ministries and departments in a manner that would be felt by the public.

The premier should be acting swiftly, as time will not be in his favour, particularly as the time to approve the income tax law approaches quickly.

Procrastination does not bode well for the prime minister’s popularity. He still has the goodwill of the masses on his side and this reservoir of power can still be put to use if he only begins to make a better showing to which the majority of the people can relate.

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