Youth and Political Alienation
The recent report issued by the Politics and Society Institute, the German organization “Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung” and the Phenix Center for Economics and Informatics Studies (the outcome of intensive dialogue sessions with dozens of young activists in Jordan) provides an important reading of the attitude of Jordanian youth towards public work and political participation and the extent of the political alienation they feel towards state institutions and policies The report was published in a book entitled “Jordanian Youth and the Controversy of Political Participation in Parliamentary Elections 2020”, prepared by Ahmed Al-Qudah and Abdullah Al-Jabour, in Arabic and English, and it deals with many important issues in the youth domain. The main result confirmed by public work, public opinion polls in general, and similar studies of the reality of young people in the Arab world as a whole, is that there is a state of frustration and tension among young people, and dissatisfaction with the current political and economic conditions, which is reflected either through the behavior of political boycott or the culture of protest in The street, which has become a widespread practice since the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions.
The gap is not limited to state institutions or the deep doubts about the feasibility of political participation, but there is also a deep gap today between the traditional political parties, including the opposition and a wide segment of the young generation today, who see that the discourse of political parties does not come close to meeting their concerns. They do not reflect the culture and aspirations of the new generation, and young people do not see their attendance and representation in political parties as a just and equitable matter. Rather, many of them claim that most parties deal with them as if they are a decoration or beautification of the reality of the parties in terms of discourse, leadership, and communication with the street.
Some of the important issues that young people highlight are the absence of an environment that enables the inclusion of young people in public political work, and the absence of an infrastructure to establish this in schools, universities, the media, and state institutions. There is a noticeable shift in the state’s discourse towards young people, as the book explains in the introduction, which is reflected in the noticeable interest in their issues, the allocation of programs for youth empowerment and inclusion, and the interest of official institutions in youth work to a large extent, in an attempt by the state to communicate with this generation. However, the participants in the dialogue saw a wide and large gap between the announced official discourse and the existing reality, which is manifested in the failure to implement this discourse through realistic and concrete policies, legislation and programs, to empower youth leaders and facilitate the involvement of young people in political life. Instead, many participants noted that exaggeration in talking about young people has become repugnant and unconvincing for a large percentage of them, given the fact that the real conditions and circumstances have not changed.
The head of the Politics and Society Institute, Dr. Jaafar Hassan, notes the general trend of young people urging reform, change, and integration, but they are still trying to find ways to achieve this in practice. Accordingly, Dr. Jaafar affirms the necessity of working to transfer young people from street politics to the political game, by integrating them into state and public labour institutions, and providing a nurturing environment to achieve this.
The value of the report lies in what it contains from the youth’s message towards the state, with the need to review the official discourse and realistic policies, evaluate the efficacy and success of the currently implemented policies, meetings and programs, and in particular build a strategic vision for integrating young people and resolving the current state of disappointment and the absence of confidence in state institutions and discourse.
Such a message is of great importance, and we are setting our feet in the year 2021, when the results of the coronavirus pandemic will manifest through a significant increase in unemployment rates in difficult economic, financial and living conditions, and the end of the state’s pastoral role by providing jobs, especially in the governorates, This means that we are in front of a large, important, and vital force that puts two options in front of the state: either view it as an opportunity for reform, change, inclusion and partnership or as a political and perhaps security threat if some young people are kidnapped by radical groups.