The “Arab Spring” uprisings which began in 2011 marked a time of unprecedented upheaval and transformation in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) countries, as citizens rose up to demand reform and exercise their right to participate in democratic processes. Beyond traditional forms of communication, the wide use of online and social-media, “new media”, and its accessibility were an enabling tool at the heart of this mass mobilization throughout the Arab Region, and indeed the world.

In comparison to the radical political and constitutional changes triggered by the 2011 events in other MENA countries, Jordan experienced a different path: King Abdullah II, who since his accession to the throne had started to progressively open up the political system towards a democratic one, gave new impetus to accelerate the reform process. Since early 2011, a set of measures have been taken to meet the expectations and aspirations of the citizens claiming civil and political rights.

The comparatively smaller protests that occurred in Jordan in 2011 and 2012, epitomizing a lack of public confidence in politics and governance, belied their significance and over time evolved to include a wide spectrum of the population demanding reforms. Opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate in politics had remained scarce. For instance the elections process was a source of controversy. In the pre-2011 period, the Government had come under criticism for its inadequate oversight when conducting the elections, which were perceived as reinforcing the power of the Executive over the Legislative power. Therefore citizens have been calling for the greater separation of powers, increased political participation and effective government accountability and transparency.

In April 2011, in reaction to the protest movement in Jordan, the incumbent government set up the National Dialogue Committee (NDC) with the purpose to involve a wider group including former decision-makers, opposition figures and leading civil society representatives in amending the electoral and political-parties laws. Shortly after, King Abdullah II also appointed a Royal Committee to draft a Constitutional Reform proposal in which it is stated that an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should be set up to oversee elections processes. In May 2012, the IEC was established and the Government announced parliamentary elections by the end of 2012.

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