Event Reports

The Untapped Potential of Jordan’s Youth for the Kingdoms Decentralization

by Alexander Reiffenstuel

An Event Report on the Workshop-Series “Local Administration and Youth” by KAS and MOPPA

The Jordan Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, in cooperation with the Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, has been organizing six one-day workshops on “Local Administration and Youth” across the Hashemite Kingdom. The workshops focused on raising awareness and promoting discussion for the upcoming municipal elections on March 22nd, 2022 and the role of local community. The first workshops in Madaba on February 17th, 2022 witnessed among its 19 participants a wide spectrum of Jordanian youth and women.

The “Local Administration and Youth” workshops are transpiring in light of the approaching Municipal Elections and are dedicated to raising awareness among young and female Jordanians. The workshop is divided into two sessions addressing the local administration in Jordan, with particular emphasis on the roles and tasks of the councils, and the role of the local community, with regards to youth and women. The welcoming remarks of Hala Abu Ghazaleh, a project manager at KAS, addressed the necessity of engaging young people within the political scene and decision-making sphere, as well as to become involved during elections as a voter or candidate. The first workshop in Madaba addressed, examined and explained the recent legislative changes, as seen in the Municipal Law of 2021. As this law seeks to decentralize government procedures in Jordan and increase voter turnout, especially among young Jordanians.

During the first session, participants engaged in a fruitful discussion concerning women quota, for which the Municipal Law allocated 25% of the municipal council seats. Participants expressed thereby particular concern for the effectiveness of this quota in motivating and integrating women into political decision-making processes. Moreover, several partakers raised the topic of ballots, voting procedures on election day and the different kind of invalid voting, in an attempt to better understand how many candidates can be voted for their district.

During the second session, the participants brainstormed and shared personal experiences of social, political and bureaucratic obstacles, hindering youth and women from political participation. Numerous participants used the discussion to express the perceived deterring tribal influence on voting decision-making processes and choice to candidate. One female participant shared her personal experience of being discouraged for running for a local council by a family member, due to the impact it could have on the tribe’s image. During the following dynamic and respectful discussion several youths echoed partial frustration towards tribes during elections, while others emphasized the importance of tribal communities during municipal election. Other participants argued that financial issue are discouraging young people from running for a council, describing it as a hindering mechanisms due to the expenses required for a successful campaign. In addition, one group recommended Non-Governmental Organizations to expand their efforts in promoting political participation. Additionally, it was suggested that the overall political education should be improved to ensure long-term involvement of youth and women in politics.

In summary, the kick-off workshop and discussion were vibrant and the young and female participants revealed their enthused interests for politics and the political process of decentralization unfolding in Jordan. Hence, the workshop series underscores the necessity to provide youth with a voice in politics. Especially, as the new Municipal Law offers an opportunity to enhance participation as, by lowering the age of candidacy to 25 years. After all, young Jordanians have a great potential in contributing to a representative political discussion and successful decentralization.