KAS-Al Quds Publication in Jordan´s Al Ghad Newspaper - Foundation Office Jordan
Translation of the article:
Amman – Al Ghad
A new publication of Al Quds Center reviews the democratization in the Arab world
Al Quds Center for Political Studies has recently published a book entitled "Elections and Democratization in the Arab World. A Step Forward or a Step Back?"
The book which contains 262 pages and is divided into eight chapters monitors the benefits of different electoral results in the Arab region during recent years in an attempt to answer the question: to what limit and what extent the elections have affected political reform processes and democratization in the Arab world. By which measure and which standards were these results a step forward or a step back?
One of the themes, which is monitored by the book, is the identification of the context of the elections and their impact on the process of political reform and democratization as well as the identification of the sizes and influences of the political and social forces in the Arab communities, as demonstrated by the elections themselves and to discuss the reasons for the decline of one force influence and the progress of another.
The book includes several visions, research and analysis in this area by a number of Arab and foreign scholars and intellectuals, involved in the cause of reform and democratization in the Arab world, from 12 Arab countries: Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait and 3 foreign countries: the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain.
In the chapter on elections in the Arab world - A General Review, Dr. Michael Mir, a member of the International Organization for Published Reports on Democracy in Germany, presented a research on elections in the Arab world from a European perspective and, in turn, Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, chairman and Founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies in Egypt, presented his research on elections in the Arab world from an Arab point of view.
The book reviews in the chapter on the impact of elections in the process of reform in the Arab world research on parliamentary and municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco, Palestine and Jordan for the period of 2005 to 2007.
The seventh chapter of the book illustrates some of the manifestations accompanying the elections in the Arab world such as religious, sectarian and national divisions; and under this title, the Director of the Carnegie Institute in the Middle East, Dr. Paul Salem, produced a paper entitled ”The Elections and the Manifestations of Sectarian Division”. Also Dr. Abdel-Hamid Abdel-Latif, Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo, presented an analysis of the elections and the effect of sectarian, ethnic and national division.
The researchers concluded with a series of recommendations on minimum standards for election laws in the Arab world, stressing the importance of the phenomenon of expansion in the conduct of elections in the Arab world and the need of its continuity, regardless of the impurities, deficiencies and violations surrounding it. They stressed also the fact that legislation, procedures and policies should ensure the freedom and the independence of media and to enhance its capacity to participate actively in the various spheres of public action, as it is considered the embodiment of our knowledge.
They also recommended the need to emphasize the importance of a comprehensive legislative reform, to all applicable laws, regulations and directives governing the political and national public work of, and to activate the role of the "Constitutional Court" or its equivalent from the courts or councils in the Arab world, to respond to the appeals on the electoral law, regulations and consequences which had been prepared, besides, of course, the role of this court in determining the constitutionality of other relevant laws.
In this context, the researchers noted that the laws of political parties, press and publishing, public meetings, civic associations, organizations, local government as well as dozens of other laws such as the penalties, family and civil affairs laws, which violate the rights of citizens and detract from their liberty punishment in most Arab countries, need to be reviewed and revised, to adapt the conventions and the minimum global standards.
The researchers also proposed the necessity of developing the constitutional life in most Arab countries, and urged the states that do not have constitutions, to establish their own and called on other states to review their constitutions and enact them, because they noted, that there are some constitutions that need amendments and some that need enacting in a way that these amendments are consistent with the spirit of "social agreement" which should organize the relationship between the citizen and the state, and not only to enact the constitutional amendments on the age of the ruler and the number of his mandate.
Courtesy Translation: Afaf Maraqa, KAS Amman