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Declaration of Principles Issued by the Jordanian Political Parties
06.07.2014
Following a series of meetings to discuss ways to reform the Electoral and Political Parties Laws of 2012, the representatives of 27 Jordanian political parties have unanimously reached the following Declaration of Principles. This Declaration serves as a starting point for dialogue with the Government, the House of Representatives, and civil society institutions, in pursuit of national consensus on the contemplated amendments to the Electoral and Political Parties Laws. It is envisaged to achieve considerable development in political reform advocated by Jordan. These principles pertain to the Electoral and Political Parties Laws as follows:

I: Electoral Law Principles

1. The need to develop the House of Representatives Electoral Law, eliminate the partial one-vote system legacy, and ensure national consensus on the new law.

2. Increasing the number of seats allocated for the National List to 50% of the number of seats in the House of Representatives.

3. Limiting the National List to political parties, which will be formed from a single political party or a coalition of parties. The party selected will be entitled to nominate independent figures on its electoral list.

4. Adopting the determination percentage (representation threshold) of 1% for the national lists nominated for the general constituency.

5. The lists may agree among themselves on exchanging extra votes. The votes of concordant lists votes are to be collected, and if they are enough for winning a seat, this seat should go to the list with the largest number of extra votes. The agreements in this regard must be formally documented and announced to the public from the beginning of forming the lists.

6. Ensuring fair representation among constituencies; addressing imbalances in this regard; considering the reduction of differences in the number of seats allocated for constituencies; and granting voters a number of votes equal to the number of seats allocated for their constituencies.

7. Determining a threshold for disbursements on election campaigns to curb the use of political money. The candidates in local constituencies should open a bank account to deposit the funds to be spent on the election campaigns. The candidates should also submit a statement indicating the funds spent.

8. Deleting Article No. (67) of the Electoral Law, which provides that electoral crimes lapse three years from the election date. This will ensure that no electoral crimes are barred due to prescription.

9. Reconsidering the number and system of calculating the seats reserved for women, and allocating about 25% of the House of Representatives seats for women.

10. Combining the seats allocated for the three Badia constituencies in their respective geographical regions while retaining the same number of seats, and retaining the seats allocated for Christians, Circassians, and Chechens within the local constitutions.

11. Enhancing the powers of the Independent Election Commission as a judicial officer in order to combat electoral crimes associated with vote-buying and illegal use of political money.

12. Determining the national list nomination fees, so that the fees are not the outcome of the number of the national list candidates multiplied by the fees specified for the individual candidate. The fees should take into account that the national lists will be restricted to the political parties.

II: Principles of the Political Parties Law:

1. Reconsidering the definition of the political party term to become more harmonized with the international definition of the term, and with the current inclination for forming parliamentary governments, considering that political parties aim at peaceful circulation of authority or participation in it.

2. Modifying the conditions for licensing political parties by reducing the number of the founding members to 150 from only three provinces. Funding the party by the state treasury should be conditional upon having 500 members from seven provinces, with at least 10% as women members. The percentage of the founders of each province should be 5%. In addition, the time period granted by law for five Jordanians wishing to establish a political party to satisfy the establishment conditions of the party laid down by law should be extended.

3. Replacing Financing Political Parties Regulation with a law regulating the funding process.

4. Not connecting the annual funding of political parties with the number of the founding members only. Instead, it should also depend on other criteria, such as the number of branches of the party across the geographic areas, the number of seats of the party in the Parliament and in municipal councils, and the minimum number of members (500 members, for example), including a minimum percentage for women and youth.

5. Criminalizing any person who causes security or material harassment to any party members or their relatives due to their party affiliation or kinship with a party member, in violation of Article 19 of the Political Parties Law, which provides that "No person may abuse, hold accountable or liable, or impair the constitutional or legal rights of any citizen on account of belonging to any political party. Anyone who violates this provision shall be punishable".

6. Changing the authority controlling political parties from the Ministry of Interior to the Independent Election Commission, and changing its name to the Independent Commission for Election and Political Parties.

7. Repealing the requirement for prior approval by the Political Parties Commission on amending the statute of a political party or its merger with another party (Clause c, Article 30) , and replacing it with the provision that that any amendment to the statute of the political party or its merger with another party should not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, otherwise it will be considered null and void, provided that the Political Parties Commission is notified to this effect.

8. The State should guarantee university and public and private community college students the right to join political parties and to promote the ideas and programs of their parties among fellow students.

9. Eliminating the penalty provisions in the Political Parties Law and restricting them to the Penal Code. In addition, the provision related to exclusion of judges, armed forces and security service officials from political parties membership should be repealed and confined instead to the legislation concerning these categories.

10. Reenacting the provision that a political party has the right to use the State media to demonstrate its point of view and explain its principles and programs, which was set out in the former Political Parties Law of 2007.

11. Recognizing the right of political parties to challenge the constitutionality of laws and regulations in force before the Constitutional Court.