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Good and bad news for government

Jan 26,2019 - Last updated at Jan 26,2019

The good news: The Jordanian public opinion continuously proves its rationality over emotional hype. Since the mid-1990s, when the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) began documenting public opinion by conducting periodic surveys on various topics, “rational public choice” emerged as a fundamental pillar among Jordanians. Many members of the elite did not believe in the rationality, realism and positions Jordanians were expressing through polls. The latest poll on Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government performance after 200 days in office and a number of other topics, released by CSS last week, adds another solid piece of evidence that demonstrates Jordanians’ rationality and realism, and defies some orientalists’ and occidentalists’ views that are largely distant from our reality.

Evidence of Jordanians’ rationality is found in the level of support among the public and the elites for appointing a Jordanian ambassador to Syria by 81 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, and similar levels of support to appointing a Syrian ambassador to Jordan. Hit by economic hardships, partly because of the border closure with Syria and Iraq and the loss of routes to important markets, Jordanians would like to turn a new page and focus on their economic well-being. This position is the result of a set of conditions; the pie is getting smaller and competition is increasing over scarce resources, and with it, higher propensity towards emigration is growing, especially among the young and educated. Jordanians recognise the economic, and other, potentials of Syria.

The bad news is that Jordanians evaluate government performance at an all-time low, especially its economic performance. Worse is the belief among the majority of Jordanians, 50 per cent of the public and the elites, that the government is not serious about fighting corruption. In the details, the percentage of those who believe that the government is “not serious at all” about fighting corruption is nearly a third among both groups, and it is double for those who believe the government is “very serious” about fighting corruption. This public position is rooted in a deeply-held belief that corruption is widespread in Jordan, as over 90 per cent of the public and the elites reporting that corruption is either “very” or “somewhat” common. What is new, however, is that the percentage of those saying it is “very spread” is at an unprecedented level. This piece of information must not go unnoticed by all concerned authorities.

Research on the correlation between corruption and economic well-being suggests that when the economy is doing poorly, people tend to report higher levels of corruption in their country. Therefore, in addition to confronting corrupt practices and individuals, all implicated individuals with no exceptions, the government should be bold with large-scale economic plans that can reinvigorate the economy to reduce the unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction and distrust, which further fuel and deepen the perception of corruption. Strategic communication tactics neither reduce disenchantment, nor freeze it at its current level. As far as the perception of corruption is concerned, the government’s strategic communication effort leaves a lot of space unfulfilled.

 

The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions.
[email protected]

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