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From political egalitarianism to competitive politics

Jul 28,2019 - Last updated at Jul 28,2019

The current system of political parties’ funding ensured, by design, a very low level of incentivised political competition among political parties. It was premeditated to “offer”, rather than “reward”, parties financial aid on an “egalitarian basis” in a similar way to social welfare support. The system is egalitarian in the sense that each party is eligible for an equal sum of money by virtue of being legally registered. Hence it is legitimate to name it “political social welfare”.

The system, which has been in operation since 2013 and amended in 2016, proved to be ineffective in promoting multi-party competitive politics, building parties’ capacity, encouraging citizens to engage in parties and to increase party-driven political participation.

While the official political discourse has grown rich on the necessity for more effective political participation, parties were cruising on autopilot, fuelled by fixed equal public funding for each party.

In an attempt to change the current reality, the new draft of parties’ funding regulations presents a good opportunity to create a more competitive political environment by rewarding measurable parties’ achievements as opposed to the existing one-size-fits-all funding scheme currently in operation.

Recent polling by NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions on the performance of political parties suggests that an overwhelming majority of Jordanians believes political parties are ineffective. Even name recognition of parties is at very low levels. Their electability is even worse. It is expected that the newly drafted regulations of political parties’ funding are going to be rewarding in terms of parties’ effectiveness, increasing political participation, parliamentary efficacy, democratisation and democracy solidification. The proposed changes are steps in the right direction in terms of rewarding political competition and expanding youth and women involvement in a multi-party polity.

The new draft regulations present a good opportunity for all political actors in the political process, including political parties and government, to move democratisation forward towards parliamentary government. In line with good international practice of political parties funding, these regulations give parties a chance to demonstrate their seriousness and to do away with the previous system of “political social welfare”.

 

The writer is chairman of NAMA 

Strategic Intelligence Solutions

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