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Interactive Session: Experiences, Facts and Figures on Political Life in Jordan

On Friday, March 17th, Al Quds Center for Political Studies hosted an interactive session discussing the experiences, facts, and figures of political life in Jordan, with the participation of His Excellency Dr. Fares Breizat, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Namaa Strategic Intelligence Solutions and former Minister of Youth, and Mr. Saed Karajah, a founding member of the Civil Alliance Party and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Center for Human Rights. Mr. Oraib Al-Rantawi, Director of the Al Quds Center for Political Studies, moderated the discussion and opened the session by emphasizing the importance of analyzing the Civil Alliance Party's experience, identifying the reasons for its failure, and drawing lessons from it. He also pointed out that the Civil Alliance's ideology and concept are still present and attempting to re-enter the political scene through parties such as the Civil Democratic Party, the Development and Renewal Party, and the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Al-Rantawi explained how the success of the political Islam movement in building a strong and influential network within universities and student circles has led to the spread of strong traditional values among the youth today. He concluded by calling on political parties to play their role in enhancing political participation and gaining the trust of citizens through their political activities.

During the session, Dr. Fares Breizat presented the results of a survey study conducted by Namaa Strategic Intelligence Solutions, which included a national and a student sample. The study focused on political representation and participation in Jordan. He highlighted the issue of youth disengagement from political life, as 56.6% of the student sample and 61.3% of the national sample expressed disinterest in political participation. Furthermore, 59.4% of the student sample and 67.3% of the national sample felt that none of the political parties represented their interests. Dr. Breizat urged political parties to take these results into consideration when planning their future strategies for interactions with citizens and the public opinion. He explained that, while Jordanians have no problem participating in public activities, they have difficulties engaging in political ones, despite most participants feeling comfortable expressing their opinions without fear. In fact, most of the respondents have already participated in a social event, but only 0.51% attended a political one due to the lack of effective communication between the parties and the citizens.

The session continued with Mr. Saed Karajah telling the participants about the Civil Alliance party's experience. He stressed the significance of understanding the political environment while planning parties' strategies, and highlighted the prevalence of customary law in Jordan which creates a perception among citizens that political parties are an enemy of the state. He added that a civil state is founded on three pillars, namely the rule of law, equality of opportunity and citizenship, and the only way for the country to advance is by supporting parties that endorse these values. Mr. Karajah explained that the Civil Alliance Party's debut in the 18th Council Elections with the "Ma'an list" was successful in the third constituency of Amman, as they were surprised to discover a strong popular base that endorsed the idea of a civil entity, and a significant support for the list in its confrontation with the Islamic Action front. However, by fixating on confrontations with the other rather than concentrating on their own party, they restricted their strategies to confrontational ones, which runs counter to the fundamental goal of political activity: engaging in public activities and planning programs and strategies. He also discussed the issue of women's participation in political life, acknowledging that while it is encouraged, concrete steps are not taken to increase it. He urged parties to be considerate of women's unique challenges and obstacles that can hinder their engagement in political life.

The session concluded with participants calling on political parties to enhance their strategies and political discourse to gain greater popular support, and to seize the opportunity presented by the new political environment created by the recommendations of the royal commission and the amendments to the political parties and elections laws, which aim to achieve political stability and provide more space for party activities. The participants also stressed the importance of the parties’ role in achieving political stability, peaceful transition of power, inclusion of citizens in decision-making, as well as the institutionalization of political diversity.

The session was part of the training workshops organized by Al Quds Center of Political Studies in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and was attended by 14 political parties from diverse political backgrounds.

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