Almost three weeks remain for the legislative polls to be conducted, and candidates, be they running individually or as part of lists, are still incapable of producing practical political programmes that could rise up to the challenges facing the country.

His Majesty King Abdullah on Saturday issued his first discussion paper on political reforms and the democratisation process, in which he called for initiating debate on the role of the upcoming parliament and on the course of the country.

But candidates have yet to comply with the message by the King who is earnest about seeing the political life in the country reinvigorated and the scope of public participation in the decision-making process widened by enlivening public debate and activating the role of political parties. 

What candidates offer the electorate are just copy-paste slogans from a past era, without any substance or practical programmes that could help solve the problems facing the country including poverty, unemployment, water scarcity and the lack of energy sources.

In total disregard of the voters’ opinion, some candidates are using posters and slogans of two years ago, with no modification or, perhaps, in a display of vanity, introducing some Photoshop touches.

The public is yearning for much more: for a qualitative change of candidates and consequently parliament, which was dissolved by His Majesty to make way for a new one that would live up to people’s expectations and to the requirements of the current age.

Most of the candidates, it seems, fail to realise that. These candidates should be aware that if they get elected, they have to come together in groups and blocs that share the same vision, to agree on forming governments which would be leading the country’s march forward in a different manner than before and which would be held accountable by the public, as the King has repeatedly said.

What these candidates promise so far is a repetition of archaic, general slogans that do not serve the country or the coming stage.

There is still some time for debate among candidates, between candidates and the public, as well as among voters themselves, as the King said in his discussion paper titled, “Our journey to forge our path towards democracy”.

Modern technology and social websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can also be utilised to arrive at common denominators among candidates and the citizens who should also be clearly stating their needs and demands.

The opportunity to effect change is still there, and it should not be wasted.