Friday, February 18, 2011

Politics in Jordan

This morning I was woken by the sounds of car honking and sporadic gunfire.

No, Amman was not breaking out in rioting and protest like Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and other countries this week.  No, today was the day that the results of the exam at the end of high school are announced.  Many families celebrate by driving around Amman, making noise and shooting into the air. 

From what I have gathered since I have been here, this is classic Jordan, raucously celebrating personal education advancement with the tide of popular revolt sweeps across the region.  Many Jordanians are very proud with their reputation as the most stable, safest country in the Middle East, this title only more obvious in the recent months. As to why this is, I havent quite figured it out yet.  It's not as if the Jordanian public is particularly happy with their government (though when asked, everyone loves the king). Indeed, many of the people I have talked to think that the king needs to reform further than he has, and most are unhappy with the recently appointed prime minister .

However, this unrest seems to find little outlet.  My host family, despite being incredibly engrossed in the Egyptian Revolution--my host brother Mohammed rushed to the Egyptian embassy to join the celebration the night Mubarak stepped down--did not vote in the most recent elections here, because many of the opposition parties boycotted them.  This is perhaps the same with the majority of the population of Jordan, families of Palestinian origin who feel that they are only guests in Jordan, and thus participation in politics here is only temporary, and pointless. My host father came over from Palestine as an infant after 1948; my family describes itself as Palestinian.

So perhaps Jordan is so stable and consistent in its politics because much of the population is apathetic, the opposition parties see victory as unattainable in fixed elections, and the youth care more about education and jobs than votes and freedoms.  It's very complicated.

I'm glad I have a lot more time to figure this out.

1 comment:

  1. Love the set-up of waking to sounds of gunfire...only to find it was in celebration of school exams being over!

    I plan on following your blog with interest, Paul. It makes situation in Middle East slightly more "real" to me, knowing our dear neighbor is over there. Take good care. We're thinking about you here on NE 24th.