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Will the government survive?

Mar 04,2019 - Last updated at Mar 04,2019

Optimism in the prime minister and his team has hit a new low. Documents leaked show that the government has appointed new employees with inflated salaries. This leakage has enraged a great number of Jordanians, whose cynical criticism pushed the prime minister to freeze the employment decisions.

The leakage came amid a national frustration caused by the insensitivity of the senior officials to the public opinion. A week ago, the Greater Amman Municipality organised a very controversial event. The number of sit-ins protesting the economic hardship has increased lately, besides a lack of public trust in the government to make a difference in people’s daily lives.

In my opinion, the government should have capitalised on the London conference and the ability of Jordan to attract financial aid. Needless to say, the sceptical public needs a kind of assurance, something that government has failed to provide. As a result, Jordanians have shown impatience with the current government.

Let us get to the bottom of the matter; the government does not have any solution to the grievances of the people. For this reason, many people think that the protests should be directed at the Royal Court. Many of the unemployed have opted for sit-ins close to the Royal Court. While protests and sit-ins are common practice, leaving the Fourth Circle towards the Royal Court means that the public does not even feel the existence of the government.

Fortunately, the protests are still peaceful. However, the deep state should not leave the issue for the wheel of fortune. The protests have the potential of getting bigger. I am alarmed that people no longer protest against the government policies alone. They ask the Royal Court, not the government, to step in and find them jobs. If anything, this means that the public no longer trusts the current government.

More importantly, the perception of the government’s inability to do anything can transform into an issue of national security. Therefore, the question should be about the cost of keeping a government amid national frustration and disappointment. I am not saying that the government should be used as a lightning rod, but it has obviously outlived its usefulness.

But again, even if the government is to become a scapegoat, the next one will most likely be same old same old. A new government will certainly carry on with the same programme, thus impoverishing Jordanians. It will, for sure, fail to regain the public trust! And then what? I tend to believe that the crisis is not the government per se but the mechanisms of forming governments. This will not happen unless the public is politically empowered and takes part in the process of decision making. Short of doing that, we run the risk of having another bigger, and perhaps more threatening, crisis.

Given the situation, I argue that the only person who can fix the situation is the King himself. He can order to dismiss both the government and the unpopular Parliament, call for early elections and order the formation of a parliamentary government that is both responsible and responsive.

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