Right under the Dome

Right under the Dome

Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s agenda this week has been full of meetings with representatives of political parties and media organisations to discuss issues of concern to Jordanians.

The upcoming parliamentary elections figured high on the agenda of these meetings, which also tackled the economy and other matters of importance to the public.

The highlight of these gatherings was the one Saturday with the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The meeting failed to convince the group to change its stance on boycotting the elections, despite measures and pledges by the government to ensure free and fair polls.

The IAF is adamant in its position that the government change the Elections Law, introduced in May this year, although clearly aware of the fact that the November 9 polls are only weeks away.

Drafting a new law would entail postponing the elections to an indefinite date, meaning that the polls could take place next year or the year after, depending on what form the new law might take and whether it would change the electoral districts and redistribute voters in a different manner, thus posing new political and administrative questions and hurdles.

Moreover, postponing the elections to come up with a new law offers no guarantee that the new piece of legislation will be acceptable to all parties; no such law has been capable of pleasing all since the start of the 1989 democratisation process.

The only feasible solution for the IAF now is to run in the elections along other political forces in the Kingdom. Once a new elected Parliament convenes, the deputies can work to amend the Elections Law in a democratic manner, under the Dome, the optimal, constitutional, place for debating the issue.

According to officials, political party representatives who met with the prime minister this week had many questions, suggestions and sometimes accusations regarding issues of national interest, mainly the economy.

If anything, this shows the political vacuum in the country in the absence of Parliament, the natural arena for such debates.

Postponing the election should clearly be out of question for any party keen on serving national interests.

There is time for the IAF to rethink its position if it wants to serve its supporters and country as a whole. The party needs the Parliament to be able to do so, inasmuch as the Parliament needs good representatives of the poeple, including opposition figures, to strengthen its performance.