I have always believed that the Jordanian regime — here meaning the king, and the king alone — is genuine in its hopes for reform, and is capable of achieving a slow but solid transformation to a reformed democratic state. My thoughts on this haven’t changed.
But I am beginning to have concerns that all of that might be futile and altogether irrelevant, given the current conditions on the ground.
Since the political process is an interplay between the rulers and the populous, a failure of either party to participate is a failure of the system.
My thesis is simple: is a significant segment of the Jordanian populous cynical enough that it no longer has the patience nor the will to positively respond to gradual political reforms? To me, it seems plausible.
We have been hearing of many reformist and opposition parties declare their boycott of the coming elections under the new (and slightly improved) election law. The big one here is the Islamic Action front, the political branch of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, who seemingly defacated on Gandhi’s saying “be the change you want to see in the world” (excuse the language), and instead opted to not work towards reform, instead only participate in governance once an already-reformed Jordan is handed to them on a silver plate.
The truth is, no election law can produce a respectable, representative parliament if people and parties boycott the elections. I also feel that no election law can be produced under the current conditions to yield a different result.
The current system is capable of producing a solid, straight path to a reformed state, some few years from now. The fuel that would allow us to move along that path is popular participation. We need people to vote and participate in each iteration of the political system, which will each, in turn, spur out a new system that is marginally better.
Or not. Another option would be an abrupt jump towards reform. An abrupt jump is another word for “top-down reform”, reform that is initiated and executed by those who are in control of the system and imposed on the populous (willingly or unwillingly). “Those in control” here would be either the king, or some revolutionary authority.
I have always observed that we are a very cynical people, in our part of the world, and we are not getting any less cynical in this year-long Spring.
Are we cynical enough that the first option is no longer on the table — that slow, controlled, iterated, and organic reform is no longer viable? Are we only left with the second option on the table?