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Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Electing a Better Future - Insights on Jordan's Parliamentary Elections

Maria O'Sullivan

The predicted participation in the upcoming, September 20th Parliamentary elections is expected to be as low as 38% among eligible voters, just as low as prior years. This lack of engagement comes despite a shift away from the “one-man-one-vote” system and an upgrade in international observers, among other programs to encourage political participation. It is crucial that this number increases as empowerment stems from engagement and active participation in society and the political realm. A non-vote protest simply won’t work.

The new electoral system addresses a desire to strengthen political parties as well as overall representation, and in turn move towards a more democratic process. The aim is to promote objective ballot casting and discourage votes made for tribal affiliation rather than informed platforms. To further address past issues, the election stations will also be monitored by international observers to discourage corruption, a previously pervasive problem, and they will be more accessible, especially to disabled individuals.

With all these efforts at promoting voter turnout, objective engagement in the elections is a must for proper representation to help enact change.

“There is an urgent need for everyone to vote and raise public awareness about the election; the problem is not the law itself, rather the problem lies with people’s choices or inaction during election processes” says Karak Hatem, a participant in ARDD’s B’Ead Project. “The political situation has a direct impact on the social situation so it is important for everyone to participate to ensure their desired social changes.”

Objectivity will help ensure that the right platforms and the most qualified candidates succeed and that is the reason the one-man system could not work as it represents self-interests versus the collective interests of a political party.

With the unemployment epidemic in Jordan, students are greatly affected. Yet despite students making up 15% of eligible voters, only 5% have participated in elections. The majority of voters come from older generations and in turn do not properly represent the interests of students and youth. Voting for candidates based on platforms versus tribes can provide a voice for these interests and help move in the right direction for solutions to this unemployment over time.

Additionally, women’s rights and access will be another important reason to head to the polls on September 20th.

“We don’t want figures and percentages for the participation of women; we want the real presence of the women in all spheres. We want to show that women can be in advanced levels, we want a woman to become Prime Minister in Jordan and start taking the places that so far are just covered by men” asserts Ayman Shaban, a participant in the Lana Project.

Women play an integral role in shaping the political sphere and an increased voter turnout, especially by women, can help ensure that women’s voices are being heard and respected while paving the way for greater gender equality in the country.Wanting change is the number one reason why it is necessary for all groups in the society to engage in these elections to have their voices heard and work towards progress. Voting for candidates based on their politics will send a message that the people want tangible change and highlight exactly the type of change they want.

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