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Fixing the political situation

Dec 17,2018 - Last updated at Dec 17,2018

I had a constructive discussion with a friend of mine over political issues in Jordan. The question of how to fix politics in Jordan was the main theme for an evening-long discussion. We agreed that Jordanians are not happy. It is as if people are fed up with the continuous changing of governments without felt success. With every Cabinet reshuffle, the economic situation is getting even worse.

Obviously, the majority of Jordanians do not feel that the country is going into the right direction. In other words, something is wrong. Although there is no magical solution to chronic economic hardships, each prime minister has pledged that his government would improve the economic situation. The fact that successive governments never lived up to their promises is behind the trust gap, meaning that Jordanians do not trust their governments. For this reason, only a few ministers, if any, have the confidence to talk directly to the public to assure them. Interestingly, they only Tweet!

Now, many Jordanians, especially those who protested around the Fourth Circle, seek to bring down the government of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz. In fact, Razzaz’s supporters made a huge mistake when they claimed that he represented the Ramadan protests. Some even went as far as claiming that the legitimacy of Razzaz is rooted in the protest movement. The claim is totally baseless. More telling, the protest movement around the Fourth Circle is calling for bringing down the government.

Casting aside the claims and arguments of the supporters of Razzaz, a minority of liberals, let us admit that the premier is not the only prime minister who failed to improve the economic situation. None of the former governments made any difference. Polls conducted over the last two decades showed a majority of Jordanians dissatisfied with the economic issues. Therefore, it is not as if everything was fine then Razzaz came to reverse the situation. That being said, he is the prime minister and he should bear responsibility for the time being.

Let us get to the bottom of the issue. When every prime minister fails, we should ask ourselves about the root causes of the failures. Officials argue that the changing regional environment, hike in energy prices and lack of foreign aid are behind the rising debt and dire economic situation. Although this is, in part, correct, it does not capture the real situation.

I believe that fixing politics could moderate the economic hardship. In other words, a strong government, with full executive power and a strong and independent Parliament, could lead to two desired outcomes: Restoring the lost public trust, creating a proper, healthy checks and balance system and, finally, changing the mechanism of forming governments.

Jordan is in bad need of a representative government. To be sure, the current government is far from being representative. Short of doing that, Jordanians are most likely to call for bringing down every government, thus creating an atmosphere of anarchy. The political will to fix politics in a constructive manner is yet to be available.

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