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Workshop: The People of Madaba ask and Party Leaders Respond... How Do We Stimulate Participation and Raise Voting Rates?
05.08.2023
  • With the participation of more than 130 figures from Madaba, including leaders from its civil society and political parties and local community.

  • Al Quds Center for Political Studies organized a workshop entitled " The People of Madaba Ask and Party Leaders Respond... How Do We Stimulate Participation and Raise Votes ?"

  • Al Adaylah, Al Nimri, and Al Rantawi: There is a window of opportunity that must be expanded and transformed into a broad gateway for political reform and democratic transition.

The Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, hosted by Al-Wehda Club, organized a workshop entitled: "The people of Madaba ask and party leaders respond... How do we stimulate participation and raise voting rates?". In the workshop the Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front, Mr. Murad Adaileh, and the party's leader spoke as well as the social democrat, Mr. Jamil Al-Nimri, with the mass participation (more than 100 male and female participants) of dignitaries from Madaba, members of its provincial council, trade unionists, partisans, youth and women's activists.

The workshop began with a welcome speech to Al-Wehda Club, presented by Dr. Youssef Abu Srour, a member of the club's administrative board in which he welcomed speakers and participants and emphasized the importance of constant dialogue meetings with the general public to raise public awareness and encourage electoral and partisan participation.

The Director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, Mr. Oraib Al-Rantawi, also introduced the workshop with a speech welcoming the participants and speakers, indicating that the aim of these activities is to provide more opportunities for the parties to learn about the positions, priorities and concerns of citizens, and to secure a platform for political actors and activists to make their voices heard by the leaders of their parties, proposing a number of factors and causes that have led to weak political participation and low turnout in the general elections.

Al-Rantawi stressed that while citizens' fears and reservations regarding participation in the partisan and electoral process may appear to be completely legitimate and understandable, we should not become complacent with the existence of such concerns, and that it is incumbent on all of us to increase the window of opportunity that has opened up in light of the outputs of the "Royal Commission to Modernize the Political System." He stressed that a polling rate of less than 30 percent, which was recorded repeatedly in the last elections, cannot be acceptable and is not appropriate for Jordan and Jordanians.

Al-Ain Jamil Al-Nimri, Head of the Political Bureau of the Social Democratic Party, also spoke in the workshop. He indicated in his intervention that political reform is the beginning of the path towards a democratic system, indicating that political parties are still, until otherwise, the only tool for participation in decision-making. Al-Nimri pointed out that one of the reasons for the decrease in voting rates in densely populated areas where the turnout percentage reached between 6 and 7%, was because elections were linked only to the candidates, and so motivations behind public voting are usually associated with the candidate themselves.

On the other hand, Al-Nimri pointed out that there is a noticeable development in the partisan situation represented in the expansion of dialogue between parties of different political currents, which he considered a positive indicator, stressing the importance of working to expand the window of opportunity to enhance participation and move away from abstention.

With regard to the Social Democratic Party, Al-Nimri indicated that the party seeks to implement a program that achieves a just, democratic, civil state, and which links democracy to social justice in order to achieve the public interest.

Mr. Murad Al-Adaileh (Eng.), Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front Party, in his intervention highlighted the reasons for the weak participation, noting that the persistence of such weak participation would deepen the gap between citizens and decision-makers. He called for the provision of a climate that goes hand in glove with political modernization which would help stimulate modernization and not retreat from it, for example by unleashing public freedoms. He noted that there are pre-election procedures and policies that weaken participation rates and drew special attention to the "serious negative effects" of the draft cybercrime law.

Adaileh called on us to capitalize on the available opportunity represented by the electoral and party laws, stressing that the response to any steps or policies that would impede political reform is massive participation in the elections to make manipulation of results difficult, and to produce a strong parliament capable of performing its duties to the fullest.

Adaileh concluded his speech by calling on Jordanian society to protect itself by going to elect a strong parliament that is able to carefully read and review everything that it is assigned and exercise its legislative and oversight roles. He stressed that the country’s experience when it came to nepotism in the government has proven the failure of MPs to fulfill their roles, and he also stressed that participation in elections is one of the tools to strengthen Jordan's resilience in the face of external threats, especially those emanating from the Israeli right.

The workshop witnessed an active dialogue between the participants and the speakers, as activists and participants scrambled to present their interventions, questions and criticisms. The audience's comments focused on the reasons for political abstention, the most important of which, from the point of view of the speakers, were economic hardship, widespread poverty and high unemployment rates, the lack of confidence in the integrity of the elections, the role of political funds, fears about the consequences of political and partisan participation, government interference in partisan and parliamentary work, and lack of confidence in governmental, parliamentary and partisan institutions.

Participants sharply criticized the political parties for their poor ability to attract the interest of citizens, especially youth and women, and the roles of some parties in reviving old political elites, all the while Jordanians are looking for parties that represent them and express their pains and hopes.

The speakers responded and clarified the questions and interventions, and the discussion was characterized, at times, by a degree of "heat", which, in the opinion of the participants, indicated an interest in participation coupled with fears, caveats and reservations, and a lack of confidence and certainty.

The dialogue aimed, among other things, to identify the mechanisms of political parties' work in expanding their support base and membership in Jordan in general, and in the Madaba governorate in particular, in addition to understanding the partisan scene and the level of interaction of the city's public with the active partisan movement that has emerged, following the outputs of the Royal Commission to Modernize the Political System, with a view to spread partisan culture and urge citizens to engage in partisan work.

The dialogue aimed, among other things, to identify the mechanisms of political parties' work in expanding their support base and membership in Jordan in general, and in the Madaba governorate in particular, in addition to understanding the partisan scene and the level of interaction of the city's public with the active partisan movement that has emerged, following the outputs of the Royal Commission to Modernize the Political System, with a view to spread partisan culture and urge citizens to engage in partisan work.

This workshop comes in the context of a project implemented by the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in various governorates of the Kingdom, under the title: "The National Campaign: Encouraging participation and reducing abstention". Having already organized similar workshops in Al-Baqa’a, Ain Al-Basha, and Russeifa, the campaign pays most of its attention to electoral districts that have historically registered turnout rates far lower than the national average. The center will continue its campaign in the coming weeks in Irbid, Zarqa and some districts of Amman.

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