Elections


It’s that time again in Jordan when the streets are littered with those photoshoped pictures of middle aged men with mustaches peppered with the occasional female face and salted with the younger faces of men who have inherited the desire to run for a parliamentary seat. But what they all share are the tired old slogans that include nationalism, Palestine, freedom and some sort of economic mumbo jumbo.  What irks me the most is the complete lack of respect for the voters’ intellect and our ability to see right through these slogans.

 

 

For example you have a slogan that reads “نعم, الوطن لجميع’ this translates into “Yes, the homeland is for all”. So what does that really mean? Does that mean as a Jordanian woman I can pass on my nationality to anyone even my Palestinian kids? Does that mean a Jordanian with Palestinian ID no longer has to worry about the arbitrary withdrawal of Jordanian nationality and citizenship? Does that mean a migrant that has been in Jordan for over 20 years, has paid taxes and become part of the Jordanian fabric they can now become a Jordanian citizen and actually vote? What does a homeland for all mean, really mean, on practical terms?

 

 

 

OK let’s move on to another slogan that is about إصلاح or in English reform. Hmmm this guy among others does not say much else on the issue of reform. So my question is with the government already reforming and privatizing so much of its institutions what reform is he talking about? Political reform? I mean some of our biggest problems stem from the fact that as people we do not have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and don’t get me started on the freedom to associate and the new Associations’ Law. Does he want to tackle these issues or is this not reform worth working for?

 
What about the one that calls for a “فلسطين حرة” a free Palestine. Seriously, how will you as an MP work to free Palestine? Will you call for a state boycott on Israeli goods? Will you work to revoke and amend the “negotiated” Peace treaty and create more just and more equitable terms for Jordanians and Palestinians? Or will we wage war? What will you do as an elected MP to Free Palestine?

 

 

 

Another slogan that is interesting and at some level honest “بلا شعارات”  translates into “Without Slogans”. At least this candidate had the decency not to insult us with empty slogans and lofty statements. But even a no slogans campaign is condescending and arrogant for it doesn’t convey the true essence of this candidate’s campaign. When discussing her background it turns out this candidate is a hard core capitalist with a history and track record of working for the Jordan Investment Board and the Chamber Of Commerce which to me are red flags. What agenda will the person who is promising no slogans be pushing and will it be one of social justice and engagement or an elitist, capitalist agenda that will be pushing Jordan further towards a “global economy” whatever that may be?

 

 

 

And don’t get me started on the slogan that drips with religiosity and how it is our religious duty to vote and vote for the right man otherwise condemnation and eternal hell await us!

 

 

 

We as voters need to look critically at these slogans and read, question, and critic the agendas and manifestos of these candidates if we truly want change. Voting for the same mustache, same slogan, and same tired old parliament will bring us nothing but the status quo.  And it is this status quo that got us to disband the parliament we last elected and has us come back to this same place again where we as a nation get to “choose” our representatives.

 

 

 

I would really like to find a candidate that has engaged with the street, the public, on a grassroots level. Someone who has not just intellectually masturbated in political salons about what this country “needs”. I would love to see the day come when I don’t have to try and sift through names I don’t know and read through empty slogans and agendas but engage with an MP that shares my politics, values and beliefs and is able to represent the people and what they desire rather than the will of the government masked as the “voice of the people”. I would love to find a candidate that has started working on issues for the people, is from the people way before election campaigns start. I want a candidate that has tried to instigate positive change within our communities and societies because it’s the right thing to do, and is a way of life for them, not because they aspire to be and Member of Parliament or Cabinet one day.

 

 

 

 

Until that day comes I will vote because it is my political right to vote. As engaged responsible citizens it is our duty to go and vote. Because I count, you count and you count and you count… we all count and when we are counted our voices can be heard. Members of Parliament are our representatives in government. They are the voice of the people. Today we have a choice to make, remain silent and take the day off come Election Day, or go to a polling station and vote. And when we vote we also make a choice we can either choose to make a difference and keep the status quo by voting for someone, anyone even if they don’t carry our message or ideals or desires for a society, a better Jordan, because they are the lesser of all evils present or we can choose change.  But how if we don’t choose a candidate you ask? By voting blank.

 

 
If change doesn’t manifest it’s self in the form of a candidate then you can choose change by voting blank. Write in NO CONFIDENCE, I DON’T WANT ANY OF YOU, Captain Majed from Abtal Al Mala3eb or your own name even, just make sure you have a ballot and you use it. That ballot may or may not be counted in the results but you as voter will be counted towards voter turnout and THAT is a significant message rather than the one of apathy sent by sipping a coffee from the comfort of your home or favorite café. It is a strong message of a politically engaged and aware citizenship that is tired of the same old crap over and over and over again. Because voting for the lesser of all evils is voting for the status quo, and the status quo just won’t do anymore.

 

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Yesterday while heading to a meeting early in the morning I saw wonderful men in orange taking down the propaganda that was put up for elections. What a joyous sight finally the ugly unruly beard of Amman is being shaved and the moustaches are being taken down. 

Looking back at the whole upheaval that was the elections I can safely say that the campaigns were ineffective, the voter turn out expected and the result not very surprising. I know I participated actively in the decision making process, however I feel we are still a long ways away from being able to make our participation meaningful. We still vote for our neighbor, relative or whomever the men in the family are voting for. We do not take agendas or track records into account, and I think that we do not really act as responsible citizens who hold their MPs accountable. When we start participating in political life effectively then maybe the debacle that was the elections will be more meaningful and the results positively surprising. 

Until that time comes I am very happy the men in orange are out there returning my city to its former quietness.

Ok if you read my previous post you will know how stupid I feel. I was checking online to see where my polling stations are only to find out that I am actually registered in my district. After that hideously blonde moment (or blond couple of months), I decided to be proactive and go the nearest polling station. 

The station was around the corner and as I walked through the throngs of the campaigners, who left me alone because I looked like a foreigner, I stepped into the school. The men and women voted separately and so I followed the signs and went up to the polling rooms. There were several rooms dedicated to the voting. I was directed into one and there I presented my ID was identified as eligible to vote in that district, handed my ballot, shown the booth and then the box. My ID stamped and cut I was ready to leave. The whole process took less than 5 minutes. I was happy to see that the polling station was calm, organized, and the process smooth and uneventful in a momentously eventful way. 

I felt very happy with myself for actually contributing to the political climate in my country. I wonder if my vote will make a difference and if that difference will be worth my 5 minutes. I wonder if the parliament we elect will be more proactive reflecting the proactiveness of the youth at the polling stations.

I am very curious to hear the statistics and breakdown of the voters and the results tomorrow. It will be an interesting day. I also look forward to the mustaches in the streets being taken down and the city return back to normal with out all the faces smiling insincerely back at me.

T’was the day of elections and the streets were buzzing. Well some of them at least. There were campaigners out trying to sway last voters in the last minute. People were crushing to get into at the polling station. And where was I? I was headed to a café to work, play and have breakfast.

I am abstaining. The decision to abstain is one I took a long time ago. I am making this decision based on two things. The first is I live in a district but am registered to vote in another. I tried to change the district with proof of residence however it seemed harder than you’d think. And so after much deliberation and effort I was unable to register to vote in MY district. So why should I bother? 

I should do my civic duty is the answer that comes to mind, to make a difference, to ensure that the right people with the right agendas get into parliament. Yeah well… no! I have not seen one campaign ad that has caught my attention, or made me stop I wont bore you with agenda or empty slogans the streets are full of them. But looking around I could not find a person in my district that could represent me, or even show that they knews what parliament is all about. 

And so the decision to abstain is the one I have made. The question is do I abstain passively or proactively. Being passive means not to go to my polling station. Proactive on the other hand is going and submitting a no one vote! I have till 7 pm to decide.

I woke up one day last week to find the streets overrun with moustaches. Why? Why have our lovely streets become littered with all these mug shots of men in suits, and the occasional woman? If it’s not their faces then its ugly cloth banners spouting futile slogans. I quickly realized that the floor for parliamentary elections was now open and with every candidacy came this propaganda. 

Now I understand the need for the candidates to make themselves know, but does it really necessitate the plastering of their faces on every lamppost, pole, circle and available wall in the city? Do they really think the picture of their smiling face will get them into office? And don’t get me started on the banners and slogans. They are meaningless, and serve only to visually pollute the cityscape!

Between the election banners, posters and signs and the Zain campaign it is far better to bury one’s face in a book when traveling around the city than looking at the ugly moustaches or the sexist branding that is now covering every inch of available space in our streets.

I can’t wait for it to be November 21, for the elections to be over and for these pollutants to be removed.