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QCPS Workshop Examines Parliamentary Experiments of Jordan, Morocco Seminar calls for separation of politics and religion

2016-12-04

AL Quds Centre for Political Studies (QCPS) concluded a two-day workshop, themed, "Political Parties and Parliament: A Comparative Reading of Jordanian and Moroccan Experiments", which brought together parliamentarians, leaders of political parties, academics, and civil society activities representing different ideologies in the two countries.
QCPS Director Oraib Rantwai commended all participants for their contribution and adherence to the workshop schedule. Promising to publish a book on the workshop outcomes, Rantwai thanked partner organisation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the European Union, for their support.

Held at the Olive Tree Hotel in Amman, the December 1-3, 2016 workshop reviewed recommendations issued by three workgroups on Islamist parties, centrists parties, and leftist and nationalist parties, with the help of six Jordanian and academics facilitators.
The workgroups discussed several topics: strength and geographic distribution of political parties; political frames of reference, composition similarities and dissimilarities; nature of interrelationship between components and relations with the government; social rules; relations with other parties; obstacles and challenges; future vision; and how to enhance role of parties in political and parliamentary life.
Members of the workgroup on Islamist parties called for separating politics and religion, prioritising development, and focusing on public affairs and interest. Citing the experiment of Morocco's Justice and Development Party, the workgroup said Islamist parties should adopt political and economic -- no religious -- programmes. Other members, however, suggested that development plans should be based a combination of religious traditions and secular ideologies, without upholding political discourse as sacrosanct. Calling for harmony and accord between the state and political parties in order to create a "democratic partnership", the workgroup urged Islamist parties to work with all political powers of difference ideologies, and respect will of the people demonstrated in election.
The workgroup on centrist parties, or nationalist moderate parties with programmatic approach, said these parties constitute a national component and part of the political system, with a focus on grassroots believing in their programmes and approach. The ideology of centrist parties is dynamic and adaptive to local and regional developments as well as major social consciousness/awareness transitions, with inclination towards the idea of coalition and unification or unity.
The participants pointed out similarities and dissimilarities between the Jordanian and Moroccan experiments in terms of context, circumstances and facts. They said the experiment of Morocco's mature centrist parties was shaped by their struggle to achieve gains and solidify their position as a political power. On the other hand, Jordanian centrist parties are still not fully developed, with limited mass mobilisation action, facing crises in their identity and programmes, amid lack of public interest in political parties. The participants discussed several issues, including parliamentary monarchy, youth, women, the Palestinian cause, citizenship, transparency, structure of political parties, and parliamentary coalitions. They said the legitimacy of monarchy is derived from religious, and national dimensions as well as constructivism and struggle, stressing that monarchy is not politically targeted because it enjoys consensus and dynamism and believes in reform and change. The workgroup said parliamentary quotas should include women and youth, empowering them to become part of political elite and decision making process, agreeing that the Palestinian cause is key to mass mobilisation. Active citizenship, particularly in light of the Moroccan experiment, creates the right incubation conditions for centrist political parties, it added.
As for the workgroup on leftist parties, the participants called for building trust between political parties and the government, in line with the constitution and rule of law, saying laws on election and political parties should be reformed. They highlighted the need for respecting political establishments, and pluralism, renouncing violence, and empowering women and youths.