AMMONNEWS - Around one-third of Jordanians feel they do not have any say in governmental decision making on issues that directly affect them, according to a recent international poll.
Although 85 per cent of surveyed citizens said they care about political reform in various degrees, they were deeply divided on the ability of a parliamentary government or MPs elected on a national level to achieve the desired reform.
Also, over half of the 1,000-strong sample doubted the abilities of political parties in this regard.
Around 70 per cent said they have not heard of any political parties, but around 50 per cent of those who did named the Islamic Action Front (IAF). Twenty-two per cent identified names of non-existent parties.
Meanwhile, respondents said they find the judiciary system more effective than the government apparatus, which is still believed to be more efficient than Parliament.
Conducted from November 23 to 27 last year by the Middle East Marketing and Research Consultants on behalf of the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Centre for Insights in Survey Research, the survey polled adults through face-to-face interviews in their homes across the country.
Commenting on the findings, former minister of state for media affairs and communications Samih Maaytah, said it is “accurate” that Jordanians generally do not feel an effective role by political parties in Parliament, and MPs representing political parties often work individually, except for the IAF, whose influence is also decreasing.
In addition, he cited an “increasing” negative perception of parliaments, which are seen “disorganised, unable to deal professionally with public policies and lacking the power to pressure the government to consequently influence decision making”.
However, people are generally uninterested in public issues and are increasingly occupied with their personal matters. He cited an “important connection” between the feeling of being underrepresented and the performance of Parliament and political parties, which should function as efficient representatives.
Around 60 per cent of the surveyed said they think Jordan is heading “somewhat” or “mostly” in the wrong direction. In addition, around 70 per cent of the poll sample described the current situation as “bad” or “very bad”.
Those who said the situation is going in the wrong direction attributed it mainly to the “weak economy”, “rising prices” and “administrative and financial corruption”.
Around 30 per cent of the surveyed sample identified unemployment as the single biggest problem facing Jordan as a whole, followed by a number of economic hardships, while only 1 per cent said it was terrorism.
They identified electricity, fuel, housing and food as the heaviest burdens on their household budget.
In addition, around half of the sample said they will not tolerate a 10 per cent price hike on any item.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s “stability and safety” was the strongest reason why the remaining 40 per cent said matters in Jordan are going “somewhat” or “strongly” in the right direction.
Regarding the general economic outlook over the next 12 months, the poll sample was sharply divided as — nearly split in half over optimism and pessimism.
As for the economic challenges, Isam Qadmani, an economist at Al Rai daily, said the government is not endorsing laws that directly address economic challenges in a manner that encourages investments, while it has adopted measures to minimise expenditures.
He noted that government austerity measures taken in Europe have proved their failure, while the US measures to boost the economy by enhancing investment have proved their efficiency.
Qadmani noted that the government is taking “cosmetic” measures to address unemployment by deporting illegal guest workers rather than creating incoming-generating jobs for citizens.
In addition, he said the government is addressing the budget deficit by increasing prices and cutting expenditures, without directing support to underprivileged Jordanians.
“Price hikes increase the cost on investors, and consequently discourage businesses,” he told The Jordan Times on Thursday.
IRI regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Scott Mastic, said Jordanians are dissatisfied with the economy, which appears to be linked to “the increase in the number of people who feel the country is headed in the wrong direction”.
“It is clear that the government must take meaningful steps to address the concerns driving these negative poll numbers, such as combating unemployment,” he added in an official IRI statement made available to The Jordan Times.
Almost half of the surveyed said they did not vote in the latest parliamentary elections held in September 20 last year, but around 40 per cent of those who voted said they voted for a list/candidate based on tribal affiliations, and 16 per cent voted based on geographical belonging.
Commenting on expectations for the 18th Parliament’s efficiency in its monitoring and legislative roles, a quarter of the sample said they do not expect any efficiency.
Only 6 per cent expected efficiency to a large scale, while around 40 per cent expected moderate efficiency. Around 25 per cent said “to a small extent”.
Women and youth
Around 70 per cent said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that women should be equally represented in political decision making in Jordan.
However, if they were asked to choose between a man and a woman with the same qualifications running for office, 40 per cent said they would select the man and 20 per cent said they would select the woman, while 40 per cent said it makes no deference to them.
The sample was almost equally divided on whether politicians listen to the needs and ideas of women and youth.
The response rate for the survey, funded by USAID, was 93 per cent.