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Leftists establish 31-member parliamentary bloc

By Raed Omari - Feb 05,2013 - Last updated at Feb 05,2013

AMMAN — The recently formed Democratic Gathering bloc, the largest parliamentary coalition created so far, eyes the Lower House speakership and an active role in the formation of the next government.

Deputy Jamil Nimri, the bloc’s spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the new coalition is now the largest in the newly elected 150-member Lower House, expecting no other bloc to emerge that can compete with his 31-member alliance.

“We are so far the largest in parliament and it is unlikely that any other bloc can gather the same number of deputies we embraced, even the Islamic Centrist Party,” Nimri said.

The MP said that members of the Democratic Gathering bloc met on Tuesday and nominated MP Mustafa Shneikat for the post of House speaker.

“We will fight relentlessly for the speakership to be a new face who has never held such a post before,” Nimri told The Jordan Times.

Shneikat, a veteran leftist, headed the People’s Bloc list in the January 23 parliamentary elections.

Nimri also said that not all members of the bloc are left-leaning but the founding members of the coalition are all from the left-wing.

“Many members of the bloc have no political background and have never been members of political parties but they all share a reformist ideology,” he said.

Amending the House bylaws will also be a major goal of the bloc, he said.

Nimri also said that his bloc has plans to either participate in the next government or play an influential role in its formation and make-up, again citing the largest number of deputies combined in the coalition.

“Actually, we have not discussed yet any government-related issues, awaiting for the announcement of the suggested premier,” he said.

The Irbid MP said that the coalition was formed on six founding principles but its main platform is based on “social democratic thought”.

A copy of the bloc’s founding principles was sent to The Jordan Times which listed six steps to achieve the sought-after reform, the coalition’s top priority.

The bloc believes that achieving reform begins with reforming the Lower House, which, as listed in the bloc’s charter, can be achieved through electing a new speaker who believes in change and has never been in such a post before, revisiting the House bylaws and cancelling all privileges granted to lawmakers, ministers and senior officials.

For members of the Democratic Gathering bloc, political reform can be achieved through revisiting some articles in the Constitution to further guarantee balance between authorities, enacting a new elections law and insisting on parliamentary governments as the ultimate goal of political reform.

On the economic and social front, the bloc calls for adopting social economic policies and a progressive tax system and revisiting a set of socially oriented laws, including the Social Security Law and the Landlords and Tenants Law.

The coalition adopts some pan-Arab goals such as defending the Arab people’s ambitions for freedom and dignity and supporting the Palestinians in their fight for independence and for a state of their own.

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