By Fares Braizat – November 24, 2018

More than one-third of adult Jordanians expressed their intention and desire to emigrate in 2018, up from 16 per cent in 2011, according the Arab Opinion Index. It is within this context that the government announced last week its two-year plan of priorities, which was received differently by three camps. The supportive camp, which is a very small group of people who either have a deep belief in government promises, a positive attitude of “building a brick” when there is a chance or an understanding that there are no other credible alternatives. There are also the “ideological institutionalists”, who are made up of two sub-groups: a supportive “populist group” that offers blind support, even if this runs against its interests and the short-term “rational choice calculators”. The latter is made up of current public sector civil servants, who make a living from executing ordained public policy as prescribed by the chain of command.

The social extensions of these supportive groups make up the main bulk of dissatisfied citizens with public services, such as education, health, transportation, municipal services and sanitation. The social roots of dissatisfaction lead to the accumulation of “worry” about the future, as this bulk of the population is increasingly concerned about securing good education, health, housing and jobs for their children. A good measure of the government plan is to look at these indicators to establish whether social extensions of supportive groups are becoming less or more worried about their future and that of their children.

Meanwhile, the rejectionist camp, which is larger than the supportive one, rejects whatever the government puts forward due to a deep distrust of the government and a loss of hope in its promises and obligations. Members of this group believe in a utopian theory of change that is largely unrealistic. Some of them are public political nihilists and private economic opportunists, while others advocate for solutions which start with the adoption of Sharia, pan-Arab unity or ideal socialism. While this heterogeneous group remains largely inconsequential in terms of effective sociopolitical mobilisation, it can deploy its rhetoric to shore up the nuanced critical group.

The third camp is the “nuanced critical”, which is made up of people who had pinned high hopes on Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to advance a set of grandiose public policies and were disappointed in various degrees and ways. This group is made of intellectually-sophisticated, middle-class “critical” citizens, who were convinced that Razzaz is capable of planning a long-term renaissance project. Following their productions in the media and discussing the plan of priorities with some of them revealed the following observations: The government’s plan is way below their expectations in terms of framing and content, does not address major issues, such as a national rail and revamping of national education, is vague and incomprehensive compared with the very well-documented priorities and needs of Jordanians.

As the percentage of Jordanians who have intentions to emigrate increased by twofold in the past seven years, government plans and policies are ought to be more genuine, innovative and comprehensive to give Jordanians a sense of hope instead of despondency. Business as usual is not an option when the symptoms of social unrest are repressed rather than addressed.

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

This article was originally published in Jordan Times on November 24, 2018. For the original article source, click here

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