After quickly glancing at the new Jordanian senate formed yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that there are now six women in the senatorial mix. Please correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m not sure about this, but isn’t this the largest representation of women the senate has ever had?
It seems the terrorist attacks prompted Jordan to push ahead with promised reforms, which I expect will include greater women’s participation in politics. Not bad!
Jeff, I wasn’t trying to attack your opinions, I was asking how you know of the degree of comfort simply because I myself am confused by the sudden changes in the upper house and the anticipated cabinet re-shuffle. You appear to have a media perspective which is something that I don’t. I was specifically referring to the recent sacking of the majority of upper house members – senators if you may. The King’s reform initiative kicked off when he appointed the ‘new generation’ figures who at the time, appeared to have fresh ideas and closer ties with the western civilizations. Briefly looking at the names of the new (or should I say old?) members, the majority belong to the ‘old guard’ generation from the days of the late King Hussein, may God bless his soul. When you have the old school on one side (upper house), and the anticipated new generation reformist Bassem Awad-Allah becoming Prime Minister on the other side, you are bound to get some conflicting thoughts.
By the way, the whole name reference in my last post was my idea of some comic relief, if you were offended, or felt that I was attempting to alienate you, then you have my apologies. Cheers.
Umm, Hamako if you are asking: How do you know this? or some such, I lived in Jordan for a number of years, working in the Arab press (at a division of Al Rai). I was privy to the inner workings of the gossip houses for some time. I saw some of what you describe but I have a different opinion and analysis of some of what I heard than you appear to have. But mine is not a case of analysis from afar. I felt, saw and heard many things living and working in Jordan through 9/11 and the opening salvos of the Iraq war. That is not to suggest that I offer the preeminent analysis of politics in the kingdom, but I do have some experience and perspective that I think is valid. More to the point perhaps, I’m not suggesting that the king’s steps are in some way noble. But I do think that there is something decidedly different going on in Jordan than in any other country in the Middle East. And I don’t think that on the whole it is a bad thing, even though it cannot be called ‘democracy.’ But I think it is headed that way and it is, in many ways, a home-grown evolution.
“But Jordan is headed in generally the right direction. The king has even spoken of the day he’d be out of things. But I have to say, for the time being, I think most Jordanians are comfortable with his position – even though they might be loathe to say much otherwise. There are some elements in and around the country that have a bit of a dictatorial flavor – the big photo banners and such. But truth be told, his guidance is slowing working.”
I agree with most of what you said which makes me wonder what you based your premise on. How do you know that ‘most Jordanians are comfortable with his position’? (I am not gonna even go into the presumption of an educated man called Jeff saying that another country is ‘headed into the right direction.’ Its too reminiscent of another man’s thoughts who also happens to have monosyllabic name; good name if you ask me)
The gossip houses of Amman have not been as comfortable as you describe them to be, for pretty much the same reasons that you have stated. Specifically, the ‘dictatorial flavors’ that you have mentioned extend farther than street banners as you obviously know. In fact, many are weary of the ‘power’ the man exudes when he decides to cut a term in half and reshuffle the cabinet as he sees fit. Many, including the politicians, are wondering as to what the point is…why commit to a political position when that position would potentially not commit to you?
I remember about 10 years ago, Toujan Faisal was the first woman to get elected EVER into the lower house.
The papers the next day, not a whif. Barely a mention. And that was by election.
Unfortunately you can’t just plug in a democracy and expect it to run. These things need time to really germinate, to percolate down so that maybe the second or third generation from introduction finally has a real handle on it.
I think it’s often thrown out there that the whole constitutional monarchy situation in Jordan is bad business. And there are certainly some bumps. But I think in many ways, it can serve as a pretty good model. Just look next door at this imposed democracy situation. What preceded it certainly bears some imprint on what follows.
But Jordan is headed in generally the right direction. The king has even spoken of the day he’d be out of things. But I have to say, for the time being, I think most Jordanians are comfortable with his position – even though they might be loathe to say much otherwise. There are some elements in and around the country that have a bit of a dictatorial flavor – the big photo banners and such. But truth be told, his guidance is slowly working.
I have a feeling that in 15-20 years, Jordan will really serve as a model for good governance in the Middle East.
I think reform in any of these countries is going to be limited. Nothing will change as long as you have heads of states, families, religious or politic elites that run the whole process. There is no incentive for any real change.
yeah that quota bit was confusing. my understanding was since the upper house members are appointed by the king there isn’t a really a women quota, I mean isn’t the quota there to protect women’s (and minorities’) representation in elections? which would be applicable to the lower house members.
Thanks Oleandar. I stand corrected. However the article confused me a bit. I did not quite undersatnd the bit about setting a quota of six seats for women. Does this mean that they lowered the quota? Or that last year there was no quota. Do you have any idea?
Natasha, I thought the same after reading the new names, but after looking more closely the number of women in the upper house of parliament actually dropped from 7 to 6 in the change.