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Disruptive politics: Investors, protesters and government performance

Apr 29,2019 - Last updated at Apr 29,2019

Government performance and investor confidence are at historic low levels. The recent survey published by Jordan Strategy Forum shows a few shocking numbers, such as 65 per cent of the 580 surveyed investors saying “the country is going in the wrong direction”, up from 46 per cent back in September 2017. Today, nearly two-thirds of the public and the investors agree that the country is going in the wrong direction. Going back to the Centre for Strategic Studies’ January survey and NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions’ April survey, the trend is confirmed.

Government performance follows similar trends. Today, according to NAMA’s April survey, of 3,020 Jordanians aged 18 and more, only 30 per cent said the ministerial team was doing a good job; 70 per cent have an opposite view. Although the prime minister is doing a little better than his team, he remains among the lowest performing PMs since 1996. Only 43 per cent said he was doing well, according to NAMA’s survey.

Against this backdrop, there is also an informal aggressive grassroots campaign mobilising people to take to the streets in Ramadan. This effort is led by many Hirak activists, and supported by new groups and individuals for a range of reasons that may look contradictory on many levels; however, they all share discontent and have the Fourth Circle in sight. This build-up is evolving in an environment of dissatisfaction with the economy, public policies and public sector leadership.

It is not unexpected that political disruption may become the name of the game in an environment of new waves of protest in the Arab world and higher levels of support for collective protest action. Adaptive strategies by the government and state institutions ought to avoid denial and face issues of public leadership at government level head-on. When only 2 per cent of Jordanians say government policies have a “very positive impact on their life”, and 17 per cent “positive impact”, while 80 per cent say either no impact,  negative or very negative impact on their life, according to NAMA’s April survey, the time for a serious revision of public conduct has gracefully arrived. Such a revision becomes all the more pressing considering figures that show that 77 per cent of investors, according to JSF and NAMA investor confidence index survey, say the investment environment in the country is not encouraging, up from 56 per cent in March 2017.

Today, the government seems fragmented at a crossroads. The combined power of investors’ anger, protesters’ determination and perceived lack of government responsiveness could send shock waves across all public and private institutions.


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions. [email protected]

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