Following is a summary of the main findings of the poll on democracy in Jordan conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies during August and September 2001.
- Democracy in Jordan
This survey conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies indicated that public perception of the democratization process in Jordan was just below the halfway mark, at 4.9, compared to 5.75 last year (2000).
The Scale: On a scale of 1 to 10, Jordanian interviewees ranked the democratization process down by nearly one point. The drop in democracy rating was well supported in the respondents’ perception on most of the relevant indicators.
Freedom of Opinion: The percentage of respondents who believe that freedom of opinion is guaranteed to a great extent went down from 15.0% in 2000 to 8.8% this year. Accordingly this indicator dropped by 6 points.
Freedom of the Press: The percentage of respondents who believe that freedom of the press is guaranteed to a great extent decreased from 21.1% in 2000 to 14.4% this year. Thus, this indicator dropped by 7 points.
Freedom to Join Demonstrations: The percentage of respondents who believe that freedom to join demonstrations is guaranteed to a great extent decreased from 5.4% in 2000 to 2.9% this year. This indicator dropped by around 2.5 points.
Freedom to Join Sit-ins: The percentage of respondents who believe that freedom to join sit-ins is guaranteed to a great extent decreased from 5.8% in 2000 to 3.3% this year. Thus this indicator dropped by almost 2.5 points.
Freedom to Join Political Parties: The percentage of respondents who believe that freedom to join political parties is guaranteed to a great extent went down from 12.1% in 2000 to 9.6% this year. Thus his indicator dropped by around 2.5 points.
Fear of Politics: The percentage of respondents who feel they cannot openly criticize the government and publicly disagree with it, without going through security or material punishment, continued to go up from 69.9% in 1998 to 72.6% in 2000, to 78.8% this year. Additionally, the percentage of respondents who feel they cannot participate in peaceful opposition activities toward the government, without facing security or other forms of consequences, increased from 70.9% in 1999 to 73.5% in 2000 to 77.4% this year.
Equality: The percentage of respondents who believe that Jordan is an equal society to a great extent decreased from 20.4% in 2000 to 12.3% this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who believe that equality does not exist in Jordan increased from 13.2% in 2000 to 19.9% this year.
Justice: The percentage of respondents who believe that Jordan is a just society to a great extent decreased from 27.3% in 2000 to 14.8% this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who believe that justice does not exist in Jordan increased from 9.7% in 2000 to 15.2% this year.
- Political Parties
The survey results confirmed a widely shared view among Jordanians that political parties are ineffective in public life. With the exceptional case of the Islamic Action Front, identified by 32.1% of the respondents as an existing political party in Jordan, all other political parties were identified with very marginal percentages. However, the Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Baath Party (Iraqi Faction) came second and third in terms of identification as existing political parties in Jordan.
Only 14.6% of the respondents indicated some political parties that could represent their political, social, and economic aspirations. Among this 14.6% of respondents, 62.9% identified the Islamic Action Front as the political party capable of representing them.
All in all, the public is taking a grim view of the future of political parties in Jordan. This is confirmed by the fact that only 1.6% of the respondents have the intention to join political parties in days to come.
- The Lower House of Parliament (elected 1997)
The respondents expressed significant disapproval of the performance of the Lower House of Parliament. 27.3% stated that they were satisfied to a low extent, while 23.4% and 29.3% stated that they were dissatisfied and not satisfied at all, respectively.
The new electoral system passed recently little attention from the public. 76.3% of the respondents reported that they were not aware of it.
- Government Decision to Dissolve Local Councils and Appoint New Councils
Respondents’ awareness of this government decision is higher than their awareness of the new electoral system. 41.6% stated that they were informed about it, and 29.7 of those believed that it would improve the municipal council services whereas 5.5% believed that it would harm Jordan’s democratization process.
- Civil and Primary Associations
The survey results showed an increase in the percentage of respondents who were members of civil society organizations. It increased from 14.5% in 2000 to 19.9% this year. Moreover, there was a decrease in the percentage of respondents who believe that membership in professional syndicates should not be compulsory. It dropped from 80.0% in 1997 to 55.5% this year.
As for primary associations, 49.0% of the respondents expressed commitment to family, clan, and tribe. On their experience with the jaha (family/tribal delegation for marriage or conflict resolution), 91.3% of the male respondents reported their actual participation in such functions.
- Women’s Participation in Public Life
The survey results showed that respondents believe women’s involvement in public life has an obvious impact on education (83.8%), health services (82.7%), health education (80.4%), and serious work to achieve recognition of the status of women in society (71.8%). Meanwhile, 44.5% and 41.0% believe that women have a positive impact on solving the problems of unemployment and poverty, respectively.
- Use of Computers and Internet
24.7% of respondents stated that they used computers, while 11.3% reported using the Internet.