Political Reform in Jordan

By Sprusansky, Dale | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Political Reform in Jordan


Sprusansky, Dale, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


A wide array of political actors in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are peacefully but persistently urging King Abdullah II's government to enact meaningful political reforms. To discuss the government's response to these demands, George Washington University's Middle East Policy Forum held an Oct. 23 event at its Washington, DC campus titled "Jordan in the Crosshairs." Ambassador Edward "Skip" Gnehm, director of the Middle East Policy Forum, moderated.

Jordan's former Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher began by stating his belief that the Jordanian government has not done enough to genuinely embrace reform. "I think the country has lacked the political will to move toward serious political reform," he said.

In particular, Muasher doubted that the country's revised electoral law of April 2012-which seeks to increase the independence of parliament and encourage the development of political parties through the creation of party lists-will result in significant change. Only 27 of 150 seats in parliament will be determined by the new party list system, he pointed out, while the remaining will be selected via the old one-person one-vote system.

Curtis Ryan, associate professor of political science at Appalachian State University, questioned the purpose of the new September 2012 media law, which extends existing laws regulating the print media to online media. The government "took a relatively bad law and extended it to the other half of the media," he said. The law has sparked outrage among the opposition, who claim that the government will use it to censor online speech.

Ryan noted that Jordan's political opposition comprises a diverse group of actors, with the Muslim Brotherhood, left-leaning parties, the National Front for Reform (a group that is attempting to unify the opposition), professional associations and trade unions as the main opposition groups. …

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