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Government and confusion over political reforms: Deviation from vision?

Dec 19,2018 - Last updated at Dec 19,2018

In her latest press conference, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communication Jumana Ghunaimat said that calls for constitutional monarchy only come from small-time opposition figures living abroad, warning that such calls "take Jordanian to a new level of demands" that will confuse them.

She went on to say that these people do not know the nature of government in Jordan, insisting that the political system in Jordan is categorised as a form of constitutional monarchy. She explained that since the government picked by the King cannot be "legitimate" unless it wins the confidence of people's representatives, this would be, one way or another, constitutional monarchy. It might be, but is it enough?

What is confusing, and new to observers, is that the minister dealt with the issue as a taboo that only some ghosts, somewhere in this world, talk about "with malicious intentions". To say the least, what His Majesty the King preached in his Discussion Papers, particularly the one issued on March 2, 2013, addressed the changing role of monarchy in the formation of governments, leading to a new era in which people, if the political environment is mature enough, will play a major role in this process. The fact that His Majesty identified parliamentary governments as the endgame of political reforms suggests that he believes that the existing political system is not the ambition and we should move to replace it with a more democratic and representative formula, where people elect the government by voting for political parties on the basis of their programmes and platforms. 

To see a minister taking the podium and saying that what we have is enough raises questions on whether this is officially a deviation from the King's vision, or just lack of understanding on the part of this official.

Commenting on the satisfactory results of the 2013 elections, King Abdullah wrote in the said paper: "We shall continue to build on this experience, develop and enhance it. All Jordanians can, and I hope will, contribute, through their continuous, active and responsible participation. But to be effective, parliamentary government will also require properly functioning national political parties with strong platforms, based on a solid framework of national democratic values, enrooted as a democratic culture not just in our institutions but also in our political life. The challenge ahead, for all elements of our political system and all Jordanians, is to deepen this culture.”

His Majesty also talked about continued evolution of the monarchy's role in the formation of governments "in tandem with our maturing parliamentary system", whose elements include functioning, professional political parties that produce qualified and experienced candidates. 

A party-based election process that produces a more representative House, where the winning party, or parties in a coalition, forms the government is the best path towards the future we all seek, when the people are more involved in the political process and when they take responsibility for their choices. As far as I know, and as shown above, that has been the goal, and I wonder if the incumbent government wants to stop the clock.


The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times

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