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Workshop: Encouraging Participation and Reducing Abstention... You are the Decision... and the Choice is Yours!


As part of its national campaign to encourage participation and reduce abstention, the Al Quds Center for Political Studies organized a dialogue meeting at the Camp Services Committee Hall in the Souf refugee camp, located in the governorate of Jerash. The session, titled 'You are the Decision... and the Choice is Yours!' brought together approximately 70 participants, including leaders from political parties, members of the local community, and former parliament representatives from the Jerash governorate. The speakers at the dialogue included Mr. Salman Naqrash, the Secretary-General of the Democratic Social Party, and Engineer Adnan Al-Suwaireh, the General Commissioner of the Civil Democratic Party, which is currently in formation.

During his speech, Naqrash addressed the necessity of drawing from past experiences, emphasizing that the current political environment is different from the past. He called for active participation in political parties, describing it as the means to address citizens' concerns. He stressed the unique nature of Jordanian-Palestinian relations and urged everyone to vote, as it is a way to support Palestine. Naqrash also discussed his party's economic vision, stressing the need to increase income tax and reduce sales tax as a means to achieve justice and promote social responsibility, especially among wealthier individuals. He explained that these tax changes would have a positive impact on the provision of services. In conclusion, he invited people to actively participate to ensure that citizens have an effective voice in the decision-making process.

Engineer Adnan Al-Sawaeer, on his part, highlighted the Zionist threat facing Jordan and called on people to embrace a unified spirit in both Jordan and Palestine to confront this danger. He emphasized that participating in elections and actively engaging in political life and movements are ways to support Palestine since, according to him, supporting Jordan is supporting Palestine.

Regarding the causes of abstention, Al-Sawaeer pointed out the transformation of the House of Representatives into a service-oriented institution, with an absence of a political aspect within it. This has led to its weakening and, consequently, lower participation. He then explained that the services that the representatives attempt to provide, such as medical exemption and health insurance, are essential rights for every citizen.

On another note, Al-Sawaeer emphasized that tribe, religion, and the military are not political frameworks or fronts, and they cannot be utilized for political purposes. He called for the necessity of strengthening the political culture as a framework for political action.

In their contributions, the participants from Souf Camp addressed cultural and educational aspects and their role in spreading political culture. They stressed the importance of education in transmitting this culture across generations and called for creating opportunities for youth and teaching them the values of engagement in public life, free from security concerns or fears.

Regarding the reasons for abstention, the attendees pointed out the role of corrupt money or vote-buying, as well as the economic burdens faced by Jordanian families, as significant factors leading to abstention. They emphasized that the success of political parties requires their leaders and members to reach out to citizens in their homes and educate families about the importance of political work. They further pointed out that Souf Camp is considered a critical area during elections and underscored the importance of encouraging youth participation and opening doors to youth clubs and other public engagement platforms for them.

The dialogue session was chaired by Mr. Oraib Al-Rantawi, the Director-General of Al Quds Center for Political Studies. In his introductory remarks, he discussed the importance of participation in elections and its role in shaping a House of Representatives that truly represents the citizens. He also highlighted the positive impact of the outputs of the Royal Committee for Political System Reform on the political environment, noting that political parties have become more effective and attentive to engaging with citizens everywhere. Al-Rantawi further emphasized the significance of election and political party laws, pointing out that they have now become constitutional laws. This means that amending them requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives, underscoring the importance of these laws and the efforts to protect them.

Al-Rantawi stressed that there is an opportunity to achieve reforms that are in the best interest of the state, society, and the political system. He pointed out the existence of a group that seeks to maintain the current situation and obstruct the path of reform, and that confronting them necessitates massive participation in order to counter any attempts to undermine the efforts of political renewal.

Regarding the Palestinian issue and Jordan's role in supporting it, Al-Rantawi affirmed that participating in the elections would strengthen Jordan's positions in support of the Palestinian cause. The production of a strong parliament can positively influence foreign policy regarding the Palestinian issue and counter Israeli projects. He refuted claims that participation in parties and elections threatens the rights of Palestinians, especially the right of return.

The dialogue session was opened by Mr. Abd Al Mohsen Banat, Chairman of the Souf Camp Services Committee. He extended a warm welcome to the participants and emphasized the royal efforts in promoting general reform, urging all parties to contribute to the success of this reform path. Banat further encouraged university students to engage in political work, as the upcoming phase will witness an increased role for political parties in power. He called on everyone to recognize the importance of seizing opportunities in the upcoming period.