This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (U) According to a late October public opinion poll, only
16.8% of Jordanians believed that the government would be
greatly successful in achieving its priorities, down from
23.3% of those surveyed four months earlier (ref b). Asked
about the October 25 Cabinet reshuffle, 58% of Jordanians
thought it would improve the government's performance.
Officials hope that recent moves toward launching a much
publicized administrative reform program will boost the
public's confidence in the government. End Summary.
2. (U) A poll conducted between October 28 and November 1 by
the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS), a think-tank
affiliated with the University of Jordan, showed a noticeable
drop in public opinion of the government's performance.
Approximately one year after the formation of Prime Minister
Faisal al-Fayez's first Cabinet, only 16.8% of a national
sample of 1,410 Jordanians thought that the government was
able to "shoulder its responsibilities to a great extent,"
compared to 23.3% surveyed by CSS after the government had
been in office 200 days (ref b). Among Jordanian "opinion
leaders" (including prominent journalists, academics,
business leaders, and heads of professional associations),
this percentage decreased even more markedly, from 31.8% to
19.6% over the same time period.
3. (U) Rating the government's progress on specific tasks,
both the national sample and opinion leaders gave relatively
high approval ratings for GOJ attention to strengthening
women's role in society (80.8% and 70.2% respectively),
activating the role of the private sector in the economy
(73.5% and 56.1% ), increasing the level of investment (67.8%
and 64.4%), and managing foreign policy (69.5% and 57.8%).
Each of these figures, however, was lower than the
corresponding percentages in the previous CSS poll. Opinions
on other government priorities were more negative. Only
33.1% of the national sample and 29.9% of opinion leaders
thought the government had made progress on reducing poverty,
while 29.1% and 34.8%, respectively, saw positive movement in
lowering unemployment. Approximately 29% of both groups
believed the government would achieve a modern political
parties law, although higher numbers -- 36.9% and 50.4%,
respectively -- thought the GOJ would complete a "modern"
4. (U) The CSS poll also included questions on the
reshuffled Cabinet announced October 25 (ref a). Among the
national sample, 58% said the new Cabinet would improve the
government's performance. Opinion leaders were less
optimistic, with 45% responding that the reshuffle would
result in better government performance.
5. (U) Dr. Fares Braizat, head of the CSS polling unit, told
the press that the drop in the government's approval rating
was "expected." According to Braizat, the 21 polls conducted
since 1996 on government performance showed a pattern of
public opinion dropping after the first 100 days of a
government being in office. Although ratings for PM Fayez
and his team were actually higher after 200 days than after
the first 100 days, this was an anomaly, said Braizat, caused
by several one-time factors (see ref b). He noted that in
another recent CSS poll, Jordanians listed corruption,
unemployment, and poverty as
the top three priorities for the government. "The important
issue in these areas is that the government is not being
perceived as successful, and the people's confidence in the
government's ability to tackle these issues is low," Braizat
LAUNCHING PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM
6. (U) Hoping to brighten the public's perception of the
government, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Government
Performance Marwan Muasher told the press November 3 that
there was "no going back" on administrative reforms and that
after conducting studies, it was now "time for
implementation." He said the reform program would revamp the
public sector according to four main principles: developing
mechanisms to achieve concrete results, ensuring
accountability, decentralizing decision making, and
guaranteeing good utilization of financial resources.
Muasher said the GOJ would prepare over a period of eight
months a "national agenda," in cooperation with a large
number of public and private sector institutions, to define
Jordan's economic, social and political shape for the coming
7. (U) As part of the administrative reform program,
representatives from 13 ministries participated in a capacity
building workshop on November 10-11 co-sponsored by the GOJ
and the World Bank. The workshop sought to teach government
employees how to design and build a results-based monitoring
and evaluation system. According to World Bank expert Ray
Rist, who led the workshop, "Jordan is poised for a dramatic
breakthrough" in public sector reform. He and other
analysts, however, noted several obstacles to progress,
including centralization of decision making, a focus on
technical issues and strategies rather than achieving
results, and inefficient distribution of both human and
8. (C) As the CSS poll demonstrates, Jordanians will
continue to lose confidence in the government if it does not
make progress in the three areas the public cares about most:
poverty, unemployment and corruption. While public sector
reform is clearly a laudable goal that should help improve
the business climate and control graft, it cannot be an
alternative for GOJ action on economic and political reform.
9. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.
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