Jordan’s political background
Jordan does not have a long culture of political parties. They were forbidden until 1990, and even with attempts to liberalize and democratize the system, the law only allows political parties to play a limited role. This affects their ability to influence politics, but also their ability to develop programmes and connect to the Jordanian people. Both the government and the population are used to direct dealings between the tribes (or other interest groups) and King Abdullah II or the Government.
The outbreak of the civil war in neighboring Syria has also had a profound impact on Jordan. As of the summer of 2015, Jordan has received over 620,000 Syrian refugees, which has negatively affected the country’s fragile economy and society. Jordan already faces problems, such as the bad state of the economy, water scarcity, and unemployment. This, alongside the influx of refugees, is a potentially dangerous and destabilizing situation.
In this context, King Abdullah II and Jordanian people have demonstrated their willingness to support comprehensive political reform in the spirit of gradual democratic transition and economic development. In this context, a series of policy reforms have commenced. The new political parties law of 2015, contributed to increasing the number of parties (from 18 in 2012 to 50 in 2016). Despite this, political structures are still under-developed and there remains much work to be done.
NIMD in Jordan
NIMD is part of a four-year project, starting in 2017, entitled “EU Support to Jordanian Democratic Institutions & Development (EU-JDID)”, which aims to support Jordan’s reform process towards the consolidation of deep democracy. In addition, the project promotes the inclusion of women and young people in national policy and decision-making processes, leading to a more tolerant and democratic political culture.
The project is funded by the European Union and implemented by a Consortium led by the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and composed of the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), the French Agency for Media Cooperation (CFI) and NIMD.
- Parliamentary support: strengthen the functioning of the House of Representatives in exercising its core parliamentary functions in a professional, accountable and transparent manner;
- Electoral assistance: enhance the functioning of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and other key stakeholders, contributing to elections conducted in a professional, transparent and credible manner;
- Support to the political party system: support the political party system in contributing to democratic governance and policy making in particular in the House of Representatives.
NIMD is implementing the third component, political party support. The project will support interparty dialogue platforms, which are safe spaces for political parties to meet and discuss issues. In addition to facilitating the set-up of these spaces, the project will also proactively facilitate the debate and ensure the inclusion of all relevant actors, including MPs, women and youth candidates. In addition, the project will aim to strengthen political parties in internal management and organization, and support the participation of women and youth in political life in general.
With this multi-faceted approach promoting stronger institutions and building bridges between elected institutions and citizens, we hope to support Jordan’s reform process towards consolidation and deepening of democracy.