Towards a culture of open and democratic local governance in Jordan: Living diverse forms of democracy

The 2017 local elections: A test for representative democracy

  • • Foster the equal participation of women in local decision making through mentoring programmes that link female candidates and women holding office. Such activities could encourage female candidates to run for local or governorate councils, and would ultimately result in more balanced participation of women in local councils.
  • • Support initiatives to enhance youth participation in local elections and create institutional mechanisms through which they can play a constructive role in the identification of needs and priorities in their community. The organisation of school parliaments and similar initiatives can raise awareness of the importance of local elections in Jordan’s democratisation process. Existing infrastructure, such as local youth councils, could be modernised and used more effectively to empower them to apply open government principles and democracy in practice.

Consultation, active participation and evaluation beyond election day

  • • Foster a culture of civic engagement, volunteering and political participation at the local level by including a civics component in the school curriculum to teach children about the rights and responsibilities of each citizen, as suggested by Jordan 2025.
  • • Formalise the participation of non-governmental stakeholders (eg. CSOs, citizens, private sector, academia) in determining development priorities.

Depending on the available capacities and characteristics in each municipality (size, geography, demography, etc.), the most appropriate approach may vary between more and less institutionalised forms (e.g. advisory committees for CSOs or specific groups in society vs. survey) and the reliance on traditional (e.g. gatherings with local authorities) and more innovative forms (e.g. online surveys, use of social media). Neither a one-fits-all solution for each municipality, nor a narrow focus on one particular approach, is likely to encourage non-governmental stakeholders to participate in the national planning and development process.

  • • Create a website and social media presence for each municipality and use digital technologies more systematically to inform the local community about its work and opportunities for engagement. The online presence could feature the organisation chart, a complaint mechanism to allow for a direct response from local authorities, the minutes of meetings from the gatherings of the municipal and district councils, access to relevant administrative documents, and other useful information. The creation of a joint online presence of all municipalities could be considered to encourage the flow of information and good practice across administrative boundaries.
  • • Encourage innovative engagement practices at the municipal and governorate level by establishing a category in the National Honours Program, the creation of which is foreseen by Jordan 2025, to reward Jordanians for their contribution to Jordanian society, for outstanding partnership approaches between CSOs or citizens and local government.

New partnerships between local authorities and community members

Replicate experiments with participatory budgeting schemes to involve a larger number of citizens in the allocation of a share of the municipality or district budget. Citizens should be involved from the beginning of the process (e.g. identification of projects) to create the necessary buy-in and interest.

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