Article excerpt

Jordan's Democracy Requires Time to Grow

The picture portrayed by the article "Jordan Doubts Its King," (Oct. 30) regarding Jordan's upcoming parliamentary elections, is not accurate.

As the article suggests, our system of political pluralism may not be perfect. But democratization in Jordan, as in other countries, is a process that can't occur overnight. That process is often a challenging one, with ups and downs. Some members of the opposition, including the Islamic Action Front, voluntarily chose to boycott the elections this year. Other Islamists did not adopt the party position and will run for parliament as independent candidates. What is interesting is that the boycott did not have much influence on the public - close to 80 percent of Jordanian voters registered for the upcoming elections. Furthermore, the fact that many Jordanians vote along tribal lines is no fault of the government. As unappealing as it may be to some inside and outside Jordan, tribes are a legitimate part of our society. As the political experience in Jordan matures - largely a question of time - we may get to a stage in which identification with political parties supersedes tribal affiliations. As for the statement that parliament is "often seen as little more than a rubber stamp," perhaps the author was not present in Jordan to witness elected members of parliament debating the treaty of peace with Israel. And although the prime minister is appointed by the king, the cabinet and its program of action have to enjoy sufficient support from parliament members to secure a vote of confidence from that elected body. On the economic front, although the challenges Jordan has faced over the past few years have been considerable, they are by no means insurmountable. Jordan's attempt to improve the economic situation in the country includes: (a) the implementation of a structural readjustment program with the cooperation of international financial institutions, and (b) liberalization of the economic laws, coupled with a strong emphasis on privatization - all in an attempt to achieve the goal of an investment-driven economy with a larger measure of self-sufficiency. …


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