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What does a Cabinet reshuffle mean?

Oct 08,2018 - Last updated at Oct 08,2018

The last thing Prime Minister Omar Razzaz needs is an unconvincing Cabinet reshuffle. While observers defend him personally, a few, if any, can defend his selection of the current Cabinet members. Some even excuse the premier of not being able to bring the team he wanted. Therefore, they argue that this cabinet reshuffle is Razzaz’s real government!

Let us get to the bottom of the issue; the problem that faces the prime minister is way more than a change of personalities. Indeed, we have seen this movie before. Every prime minister thought of Cabinet reshuffle as a means to buy time and sooth the angry public. Apparently, Razzaz is not oblivious to the dramatic drop in his popularity as shown in the latest opinion polls. According to the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan, the percentage of optimists in Razzaz government dropped from 81 per cent to 54 per cent in the first one hundred days.

It is not as if the public seeks to bring about a Cabinet reshuffle. In fact, this issue is not a priority for the people. As reflected in the CSS opinion poll, the vast majority of Jordanians are not happy with the rising hardship and flagging growth. There was some hope that Razzaz would be different. And yet, it is hard to point out to a real economic achievement for this government.

In the past three months, the state’s institutions, particularly the security apparatuses, have helped prop up the standing of the prime minister. However, there is a limit of what the state’s institution can do if Razzaz does not succeed in seizing the moment and brining about a Cabinet reshuffle that can make a difference.

Perhaps, it is worth reminding Razzaz that previous Cabinet reshuffles never come as a result of assessing the performance of ministers. Appeasing certain groups was the key parameter for picking ministers regardless of their quality and qualification. While this worked in the past, I suspect that people are fed up with the same ole same ole tactics.

A few months ago, His Majesty King Abdullah made it perfectly clear that any minister that is not up to the mission should go home. Meaning the King wants the government to assess the performance of each minister. Therefore, people would like to see Razzaz doing just that. Days for picking minister as a means of appeasement should be gone.

I believe that Razzaz is a smart person. He needs to internalise that the public will support this Cabinet reshuffle if it is based on meritocracy. Besides, this time around, people will say that this is Razzaz’s first real government and, therefore, he should take this task seriously. In a word, a Cabinet reshuffle is not about personalities as much as about a scheme that could alleviate the economic hardships felt everywhere in Jordan.

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