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Parliamentary elections the defining moment in Jordan Spring - King
Amman, 8 August 2012

His Majesty King Abdullah has said the parliamentary elections expected at the end of the year are the litmus test in Jordan Spring, adding that the Independent Elections Commission will play a vital role in rendering the polls free, fair and transparent.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, also broadcast by PBS and Bloomberg networks Wednesday, King Abdullah said monarchies keep evolving all the time.
The King explained that his mission is to “support the wishes of the people… my job is to fulfill [people’s] aspirations.  So it’s evolving.  And, you know, monarchies need to continue to evolve”.
His Majesty said the Jordanian society is able to carry on with reforms, so that the state can continue the process of development, modernisation and progress, asserting that the constitutional changes made last September are “not the end… this is still the beginning”.
His Majesty called on political parties to move away from rhetoric and start designing socio-economic platforms so that people can vote on that basis. “This is the challenge we are facing,” the King said.
The King expressed his wish that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has announced a boycott of the elections, would take part in the electoral process, stressing that they are “shooting themselves in the foot” if they shun the vote and that he cannot tailor an elections law specifically for the group.
“… If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to change the Constitution and the Political Parties Law, and wants to do the other things that they want to do with the society of Jordan… do it inside the Parliament”.
The King added: “If they [the Brotherhood] are not part of the process under the Dome of the Parliament next year, they will lose out because it will be a Parliament that allows the transformation of the Elections Law and the formation of the political mood of Jordan, which way we’re going to go.”
On his vision for Jordan’s politics, His Majesty said: “I’d like to see three to five political parties ideally.  We have over 30 political parties now.  [I want to see] three to five political parties representing left, right and centre as quickly as possible.”
His Majesty noted that the main challenge lies in how to develop left, right and centre.
“So the challenge is how do we develop left, right and centre…. What I do want is to have an elected parliamentary government. The best way of doing that is to encourage the parliamentarians… to come together as political blocs. And then they decide on the formation of a government.  That allows Jordan over the next four-year period to focus on parliamentary governments and to start the establishment of a new political life of left, right and centre, three to four, five political parties.  That will be our major challenge.”
On the progress made as part of the reform process, the King said: “In Jordan in 18 months, we changed a third of the Constitution.  We introduced two elements to the Constitution, a constitutional court and for the first time, an independent elections commission which will be vital for the next phase of political life.  [There are also] a new political parties law, a new elections law, a teachers union, this was everything that was demanded… and more”.
His Majesty said that the defining moment for Arab countries now is how each country defines itself individually.
“You know, today an Egyptian is asking what it means to be an Egyptian, a Tunisian [is asking] what it means to be a Tunisian, a Libyan asking what it means to be a Libyan and a Jordanian today needs to define what it means to be a Jordanian.  And Syria after whatever happens will have to find what it means to be a Syrian.  That is the major challenge.  So the countries are now looking inwards.”
On Syria, His Majesty told the network that there are now around 150,000 Syrian refugees, and there has been a spike in their flow recently, with a daily average of around 1,000 crossing into the country.
His Majesty commended the response of the international community and highlighted the world’s appreciation of Jordan’s efforts to take the burden of the influx.
The King stressed the importance of Syria remaining a unified and united country as this serves a strategic interest of the region, warning that the situation is heading for the worse and voicing concern over the increasing sectarian violence.
On the US efforts to push the peace process forward, the King said President Barack Obama has “done as much as he could” to advance Israeli and Palestinian peace efforts in the face of distracting international economic challenges.
His Majesty said one of his goals this year was to keep Israeli and Palestinian peace talks part of American politicians’ dialogue during an election year. His Majesty said that while other international issues, such as the Arab Spring, Syria and Iran, might dominate headlines, those are “sideline issues” to a larger problem, which is the Palestinian issue.