AKRUM IDREES, AMMAN, JORDAN
1. WHY IS CIVIL PARTICIPATION IN POLICY-MAKING NEEDED? Public participation in policy-making can give much more credibility to any political agenda. What people think and feel about a certain topic have never been represented in a fair way because the public elects a political elite to make decisions for them. Policy-making can go oﬀ the rails when the political elite in a particular country is corrupt or lacks the proper material or technical understanding. Or because political radicalism in some issues tips the balance in decision-making in favor of the interests of a certain group of people instead of taking the right action for the beneﬁt of all.
2. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE CIVIL PARTICIPATION IN POLICY-MAKING? As a small part of the equation that created the Arab Spring, I do what I can to deliver the most reliable information and real raw data to my network of friends and even to people I don’t know via social media. In this way I leave room for any individual to form their own views on any given topic, unbiased by propaganda which gives an incomplete or distorted view of the facts. In my country – which is now going through a vital debate about the future of its own decision-making processes – I have found that keeping my mouth shut is of no help whatsoever. Spreading the spirit of thinking out loud and directing constructive criticism is also an important step to take. Such critical voices can be heard in personal conversations, on social media and in extreme cases in mass protests on the streets.
3. WHAT IS A GOOD AND CONVINCING EXAMPLE OF CIVIL PARTICIPATION IN POLICY-MAKING? As a young Arabian, I’ve seen that the digital revolution that preceded the real world movements has given the most inﬂuential example of the role of public participation that has led in the case of the Arab Spring to a complete makeover in political regimes. Social media networks provided fertile ground on which to share information that enabled people to document violations and even to create such an upsurge in public feeling about particular issues that people started to react to them. And this has placed tremendous power in the hands of the people who can now speak their minds directly without having to go through some third party who might distort or water down their will. In Egypt even the ruling military council has started to use social media to gage the attitude of the Egyptian people towards diﬀerent issues.