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Incentivising political competition

Aug 12,2018 - Last updated at Aug 12,2018

Against the backdrop of declining confidence in successive governments’ ability to respond satisfactorily to citizens’ priorities, it is essential to revisit the paths that took us all there in order to design, plan, execute and evaluate new approaches to reverse the trend for the sake of Jordan and its citizens. Although it is understandably complicated and we have a rather long way to go, there are starting points of incremental change that are achievable and can make a difference. Small things add up finally. One of those is to create an incentive-based political party finance system. 

Political parties have largely failed in making a difference in the local political scene. Since the enactment of the Political Parties’ Law in early 1990s, over 50 parties have been established. Many of them disappeared without placing a single member in parliament or other representative bodies. Today, there are nearly 50 parties, active and under process, very few of them have representation in parliament. Consecutive polling data on political parties show that the majority of Jordanians believe political parties have been unsuccessful. The predicament of political parties needs a solution. 

One way to approach a solution to this dilemma is through creating an incentive based system of funding for political parties to replace the existing set of regulations governing parties’ finance. The current system offers JD50,000 for each party in two installments annually, regardless of any political achievement. It is closer to a political party welfare and patronage system than competitive political market place for democracy development.

Democracy inauguration requires competitive polity based on open political competition through regular, fair and transparent elections. Political parties should be the pillars of this system. For those parties to become relevant, the process of financing political parties ought to evolve to create a more competitive political process that offers voters a real and credible alternative choice for public policies. 

Therefore, reforming political parties’ financial support should be built around a reward, rather than welfare, system based on key performance indicators. This system would reward parties in linear manner, the more a party scores on participating in elections, number of members, including women and youth, geographic representation, seats in elected bodies, coalition building, outreach and recruitment activities, the more public, and possibly private, funding it will get.


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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