The falling business of politics in Jordan
Candidates for January parliamentary polls are spending less money on advertising and promotion when compared to previous election seasons, according to service providers.
Owners and directors of several businesses that traditionally offer services and products to candidates ahead of the elections told The Jordan Times that spending by parliamentary hopefuls this year is way lower than it was in the past seasons.
Head of advertising department at a print media outlet, who preferred to remain unnamed, said advertisements may peak after New Year’s Eve, describing the volume deals signed with candidates so far as “fairly good, compared to excellent in the past”.
But Mohammad Hawamdeh, co-owner and chief editor of the online news agency, Khaberni.com, said as far as his agency is concerned, business with candidates this year is “much higher” than it was in 2010.
Hawamdeh attributed the large volume of ads the website was able to attract to various reasons, mainly that the Elections Law is different than the one that was in effect two years ago.
National lists did not exist in 2010, he said, adding the fact that there are 60 lists running for a nationwide 27-seat list has resulted in larger advertisements on his website.
Another reason, Hawamdeh said, is that the number of candidates running at the local district level is higher than 2010.
According to the Independent Elections Commission (IEC), the number of candidates at local district levels amounts to 698, 129 of whom are women.
For many food caterers providing mansaf, Jordan’s signature dish, to the tents of candidates, the parliamentary election used to be a good business season, but this year demand is weaker.
Ghazi Zubi, owner of a well-known large restaurant in the northern city of Irbid grumbled that no single candidate has so far ordered meals for their campaign headquarters.
“Two years ago business was excellent because we served over 100 candidates on a daily basis,” he noted, pointing out that he ran an advertisement in a daily newspaper offering hopefuls a discount.
Hassan Abbadi, owner of a restaurant in west Amman, complained that sales have increased just slightly because of the elections season, while in 2012, according to him, sales of the food outlet almost tripled.
Abu Mohammad, manager of a sweets shop in Amman, echoed the same grievance of Zubi.
“We have signed contracts with some candidates, but when compared to previous elections it is not as good as it used to be,” Abu Mohammad added.
Musa Abbadi, owner of a business providing tents as makeshift campaign headquarters, said unlike past years, candidates this year opt to cheap tents and associated services such as rented chairs and other equipment.
According to Abbadi, the average fees to lease a 50-square-metre tent, made in Jordan, costs around JD100 per day or JD2,500 per month.
“The tents we offer are made in Germany, which are more expensive than locally made tents,” he said, noting that the lease fees of such tents are around JD10,000 a month.
Two years ago, there was “good” demand on such high-quality tents by candidates, but this year they go for cheaper services, Abbadi added.
Another provider, Mahmoud Sbeitan, said the elections season used to be a major stimulant to the business.
“I was contacted to offer services to several candidates but I preferred not to deal with them because they are demanding cheap prices,” Sbeitan remarked, indicating he prefers to rent tents to wedding and reception parties.