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Muslim Brotherhood Dismiss Longevity of New Jordanian Government - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Jordanian gendarmerie policeman stand guard during an anti-government rally organized by protesters known as "Youth of March 24 Movement" to demand for more freedom and access to corruption cases in Amman. (R)

Jordanian gendarmerie policeman stand guard during an anti-government rally organized by protesters known as “Youth of March 24 Movement” to demand for more freedom and access to corruption cases in Amman. (R)

Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat —A new Jordanian government has emerged after long consultations with the interim president and the parliamentary bloc. With only 18 ministers, it has been described as “slim”; the Jordanian people have not put their faith in such a government since 1976, when Mudar Badran governed during the reign of the late king, Hussein bin-Talal.

Political analysts say that this government, like its predecessors, will not survive long, given the current political and economic conditions. The same situation also applies to the House of Representatives, since neither institution has realized the aspirations of Jordan’s citizens. Despite the prime minister having left some ministerial positions empty—a clever attempt to win the confidence of the Representatives, since they aspire for such posts—this will not change anything. The prime minister will soon present the program of his government and, like those before it, it will emanate from the throne.

Hamza Mansur, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, said, “The party considers that the formation of Al-Nusur’s second government as completely traditional, which was expected. This is despite continuous meetings for nearly two months, which were conducted by the chairman of the Royal Court and interim president, and despite the media noise surrounding the parliamentary government, of which we have not seen any trace.”

Mansur added in a press statement yesterday: “If something about this formation is to be noted, it is the reduction in the number of ministers. Although this can contribute to a reduction of expenses, it is doubtful that some of the ministers who have two or more portfolios will be able to undertake their duties. Bear in mind that we should not disregard the messages sent by the interim president about the possibility of conducting a cabinet reshuffle that would open the door for appointing some representatives as ministers, which is an attempt by the interim president to appease some blocs in the hope of winning their confidence.”

Democratic standards stipulate the commissioning of the parliamentary bloc, having fought the elections on the basis of a comprehensive national program—on the basis of which it gained confidence. Mansur stresses that any government that is formed in the absence of such democratic criteria would continue to lack popular legitimacy, and would be rendered unable to achieve its aims.

Mansur stresses that any government to be formed in the absence of the democratic standards, which stipulate commissioning the parliamentary majority bloc, which fought the elections on the basis of a comprehensive national program on whose basis it won the confidence, such government would continue to lack popular legitimacy and the ability to achieve its aims. This compels policy makers to respond to the popular demands, and achieve genuine reform in which convincing constitutional and legal amendments return power back to the people.

For his part, Zaki Bani-Irshayd, deputy comptroller general of the Muslim Brotherhood, disapproved of the way in which president Al-Nusur dealt with the representatives, and of his promises to make them ministers in the future, when forming a real parliamentary government.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Bani-Irshayd said that there are 150 seats in the House of Representatives. “Is there not a qualified representative who deserves to be a minister?” Bani-Irshayd considers that what is taking place is tantamount to an affront to the House of Representatives. He retorted, “[Is he claiming that] no one has the qualification and expertise? We will see how the House of Representatives replies to this insult.” Either they genuinely do not have the expertise, and are not suitable to represent the Jordanian people, or they have the qualifications, and they will assert their dignity by withholding their confidence in the government.

“Either way, there will be a blow to one of the two authorities. Either the prime minister is ‘condescending and arrogant,’ and it is the representatives that need to refocus themselves and their institution through withholding confidence, or, the claims of Al-Nusur are correct and they do not have qualifications or competence. Consequently, either the House of Representatives or the government ought to be dissolved,” Bani-Irshayd continued.

With regard to Al-Nusur’s consultations with the Representatives, Bani-Irshayd replied, “perhaps the members of the House of Representatives are now saying that the prime minister ‘has consulted them, and disagreed with them.’” He said, “We do not know whether or not the Representatives will rise to the challenge, and overthrow this government.” Nevertheless, he outweighed the presidents’ confidence, considering Nusur’s consultations to be an increase in reproach, and not an opportunity.

Bani-Irshayd concludes by saying: “The current House of Representatives cannot form a parliamentary majority government because it has been brought in through the one-vote law. There are no parties with programs in this parliament, and hence the Jordanian political scene is not likely to witness a breakthrough, especially after the formation of the government.”
For her part, Representative Khulud al-Khatatibah, spokesperson of the Watan parliamentary bloc, has said: “We are in the bloc against appointing Representatives as ministers. We are waiting for working governmental program, which will be presented to the House of Representatives during the next week. In light of the program we will take a stance toward the government; we will either give it confidence, or we will withhold it.”

Political writer Fahd al-Khaytan says, “Weeks of parliamentary consultations over the formation of the prospective government have ended with nothing; with a traditional government.” He added, “It seems that, after all this time, the state has realized that the new parliament is not qualified to produce a parliamentary government that will lead the political reform program. Thus, Prime Minister Al-Nusur has returned to the old mechanism of forming the government; he has thrown behind his back the nominations by the parliamentary blocs, and closed his door for a couple of days to form a mini-government in which the ministerial portfolios are distributed en masse.”

Al-Khaytan wonders, “What has changed? Where is the stable, four-year parliamentary government? Why have we wasted all this time if the government is going to be formed in the same way as before?” He deliberated that, “We have failed to produce a parliamentary government, and in order to cover up this failure, the interim president resorted to the ruse of the miniature government. This, in reality, is the fifth transitional government that will not live for more than a few months. In other words, we will continue to be in a state of fumbling for months to come.”

Khaytan says, “There is no doubt that Al-Nusur’s success in attracting technocratic and politicized elements to his government sends a reassuring message to the political activists in the country. However, the bitter truth is that the course of reform, which started two years ago, is struggling to stay alive to the extent that the decision makers have been compelled to return to the transitional stage, the stage that preceded the latest parliamentary elections.”

In his turn, economic analyst Khalid al-Zubaydi says that a new stage of reform and meeting requirements has started, but under extremely difficult financial, economic, and political circumstances.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Zubaydi added that the economic portfolio will jump to the forefront, starting with confronting the fiscal deficit, increased debt, high cost of living, and meeting the required growth targets. This is after macroeconomic indicators that have retreated during the past few years, especially in the light of the consequences of the world financial crisis, and the repercussions of the Arab spring that have had a severe impact on the regional economy. The Jordanian economy, particularly, has been suffering chronic imbalance and deficit for decades.

Al-Zubaydi points out that the ministers of finance, planning, tourism, water, industry, and commerce have good expertise and work well together, which will enable the government to act as a unified team in order to deal with any imbalances. This will be the first test to be faced by Al-Nusur’s new government.