Openness and participation in Jordan: The expected impact of decentralisation reform

The 2015 Decentralisation Law and Municipality Law are giving impetus to enhancing local democratic governance and bear the potential of strengthening popular participation in the national planning and development process. The creation of elected councils has raised hopes to encourage citizen-driven initiatives and foster greater transparency and accountability. On the basis of an assessment of the current legal, institutional and policy framework for open government (e.g. access to information, public consultation, integrity system, CSO activity, political participation), this chapter discusses the expected impact of the decentralisation reform and its potential to bring about the emergence of a new administrative culture of more open and participatory governance at the level of the governorates and municipalities.

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By passing the Decentralisation Law and Municipality Law in late 2015, Jordan has revamped its legal and institutional framework and given new impetus to enhancing local governance and strengthening citizen participation in the national planning and development process. The creation of elected councils at the governorate and local level will bring local authorities closer to citizens and has raised hopes of encouraging citizen- driven (bottom-up) initiatives, greater transparency and accountability.

Evidence from the survey conducted by the OECD Secretariat1 shows that citizens and government officials take a positive attitude towards the reform process. Based on a more decentralised identification of service needs and policy priorities, decentralisation reform is expected to allow for more open and participatory policy making, and ultimately result in a more responsive delivery of public services and more balanced development across the territory. However, this chapter will show that the challenges for a new culture of open and participatory governance across the different layers of government should be tackled decisively.

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