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To elect judiciously

Jul 23,2017 - Last updated at Jul 23,2017

The Lower House of Parliament was created to establish and cement democracy.

There are 130 elected members in the House, with 9 seats reserved for Christians, 3 for Circassians and Chechens, and 15 for women.

In Jordan, the main political groupings are the communist and socialist parties, and the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood group.

However, our current political system does not encourage the formation of political parties even though parliamentary candidates run in open proportional lists.

The new Elections Law allows for running under open proportional lists, yet not all members on the list are guaranteed a seat in the House, even if the list as a whole gets more votes that others. 

As per the existing system individuals that get the most votes to the House of Representatives get elected, regardless of the number of votes the list got as a whole.

This does not foster voting based on agreeing with the ideology of the people on a list. 

If several individuals that have the same economic, social and political ideologies and policies run for Parliament together, as a group, the goal should be that if such group wins, it should be able to implement its programmes in Parliament. 

If only one person wins from each open proportional list, the likelihood of a huge number of Lower House members disagreeing on main issues is high. 

A more efficient option would be for citizens to vote for people on lists with whose ideologies they agree.

That way, multiple running lists that fight for similar issues get elected in the House of Representatives and that would make change based on agreed-upon ideologies elected by the people much more doable than if each elected official were fighting for different issues.

Lists with the most votes should get seats in the House of Representatives in their entirety, rather than only individuals with most votes.

In that case, people will be forced to vote for groups whose programmes they agree with, rather than for particular individuals that serve their personal interests or tribal relations.

Democracy will be ensured if each list has a limited number of individuals. That will allow the 130 elected officials to include a healthy diverse group of people. 

For a more impactful and unified party system to exist, parliamentary votes, I believe, need to be cast in two phases. The first would include the multiple lists with people running for elections and the lists with most votes would qualify for the next phase.

When there is a huge number of lists, chances are that many of the candidates’ plans will overlap or be duplicated.

In phase two, the lists with the most votes will go in the final round.

If there are too many lists, the average citizen will not have the incentive to read and understand deeply the ideology of each.

If elections take place in two phases and a smaller number of lists qualify for the final round, citizens have more incentive to deeply understand what they are running for and elect for causes rather than personal benefits.

Each list should include a diverse team that can tackle important issues they intend to fight for, economically and socially. That gives them a greater chance of attracting a unified vote and to defend their values with strengths.

 

 

The writer is an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington, works in social development. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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