By Fares Braizat,  Dec 20,2021

Political parties should be the political expression of crystalized interests of various socio-economically atomized groups in the society. The basic ideological orientations of the society are mapped around worldly and godly issues. The godly issues are rooted in religious faith while the worldly issues are linked to the materialist daily life of people. 

While the overwhelming majority of Jordanians place very high importance on religion in their lives and describe themselves as religious, regardless of whether they frequent religious places, they do differ significantly on worldly and public policy issues. Public policy issues are, ideally, the field of political competition among various political groups and parties. 

On issues such as the role of the state, private versus public ownership of business, competition, income equality, and other similar topics, Jordanians, like other peoples, vary significantly.

According the 7th wave of World Values Survey (2018-2020), 54 percent of adult Jordanians say that “private ownership of business should be increased”, while 43 percent say “government ownership of business should be increased”; these numbers correspond to 81 percent and 18 percent in the US, 67 percent and 30 percent in Sweden, 38 percent and 58 percent in Turkey and Egypt, 37 percent and 51 percent in Russia, 36 percent and 50 percent in Ukraine, and 32 percent and 65 percent in Tunisia. 

These societies have been through many processes and models of modernization. Some, like the US, followed the path of free enterprise, with market rules and antitrust laws. Sweden followed a path similar to the US’ but with a more generous welfare state provisions. Jordanians’ attitudes are closer to those of American and Swedish societies (majority prefer private ownership of business) than to those of Turkey, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine and Tunisia, where the majority prefers government ownership of business. 

The experiences of the former Soviet societies, as well as of Arab socialist societies (Egypt) or of those where modernization is led by the state (Turkey and Tunisia), indicate that socio-economic change takes time and the fact that there are significant differences among those countries suggests that the various models of modernization have not produced the same results. Some of these countries ended up on a troubled pathway to democracy (Russian, Ukraine, Turkey and Tunisia), some reached the “end of history” by a combination of capitalist economy and liberal democracy (US and Sweden).

Given these experiences, the Jordanian society stands a reasonably good chance to develop a combination of capitalist economy with a preference for a significant role for the state as enabler, and to build a functioning democratic model. While the former is already well under way in terms of values (as 81 percent of Jordanians believe “we need larger income differences as incentives”) and in practice, as the private sector makes over 80 percent of the GDP, the latter – developing democracy – will be more difficult despite the steps that have been taken over the past three decades and the more recent outcome of the Royal Committee to modernize the political system. The difficulty is rooted in the inability of socio-political groups to spell their positions on public policy issues in a way that responds to actual, not imagined, societal needs.     

The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E. Dr. Fares Braizat. 

This article was originally published in Jordan News on December 20, 2021. For the original article source, click here

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