Jordan’s municipal elections were hailed by many as a positive step towards political reform but their aftermath was tarnished by deadly celebratory gunfire. While some cheered the outcome of the elections, others mourned the death of two children killed by stray bullets from celebratory gunfire. The elections were marred by road blocks, riots and rallies in the streets of various governorates by supporters of losing candidates. Making matters worse, the Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) website crashed due to heavy traffic, with some attributing the breakdown to hackers’ attempts to manipulate the results. Mayors, municipal council members and governorate councils were elected for the first time under the Decentralisation Law, which gives a voice to the elected council in determining the governorate’s development priorities.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday announced the preliminary results of five districts, two of which had three women winning outside the quota. Meanwhile, the IEC announced that no re-vote would be held in the Central Badia District, where sabotage of ballots was reported. At a press conference, Mustafa Barari, head of the commission’s special committee entrusted with auditing the elections’ results, announced the initial outcomes of Karak, Balqa and Irbid’s 1st and 4th districts as well as the Central Badia. In Karak, the number of voters stood at 103,451 with 10 seats allocated for the southern constituency, including those designated for women and Christians. Out of eleven competing lists, six have made it to the 18th House.
Widespread rioting broke out in Jordan on Tuesday night after preliminary results of the country’s parliamentary election were reported, amid complaints of vote-rigging. Residents of the restive southern city of Maan blocked roads, burned tyres and threw bricks until disturbances were eventually quelled by Jordanian security forces, according to the local news website Roya. Residents told Roya that they heard intense gunfire after nightfall and that electricity was cut off in various areas of the city. There was another reported incident of rioting just north-west of the capital, Amman, after supporters of a parliamentary candidate, who has not been named, read news reports which suggested that he had not won a seat.
Jordan’s moderate Islamist opposition could emerge from Tuesday’s parliamentary election with renewed influence after surviving government attempts to ban it as part of a wider crackdown on political Islam, analysts said. The group could win up to a fifth of seats in the parliament after ditching its “Islam is the Solution” slogan and joining with Christians and prominent national figures to create a broad-based civic grouping, The National Coalition for Reform, they added. Officials said turnout was 36 percent of 4.1 million eligible voters at the end of polling, lower than the election in January 2013.
Throughout Jordan, street signs have been replaced by beaming campaign posters and car parks filled with rows of seats for rallies. Campaigning reached its peak on Sunday night before lapsing into an enforced silence in preparation for Tuesday’s polls, which will be different from other elections in the kingdom’s recent past. Jordan made significant changes to its electoral law this year, replacing a controversial one-person-one-vote system with a list-based system designed to encourage political parties. As a result, key opposition groups that previously boycotted the election, including the Muslim Brotherhood, are back.
Candidates on Saturday demanded a partial recount in recent Jordanian parliamentary elections, even as protests regarding the contested results rumbled on, DPA reported Hundreds of supporters of defeated candidates rallied in Amman and Mafraq, marking the third straight day of protests over the results of the January 23 polls. Some 56.7 per cent of Jordan’s 3 million eligible voters cast ballots in Wednesday’s polls, which were declared by international observers to be free and fair, with few irregularities. However several candidates cried foul after a late surge in voting tipped the balance in several heated contests and after final election results on Thursday sealed some candidates’ victories with margins in the single digits.
Jordanians are voting in parliamentary elections boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which says the electoral system is rigged in favour of rural tribal areas and against the urban poor. The Brotherhood and the National Reform Front of former prime minister and intelligence chief Ahmad Obeidat are staying away from the polls, which opened for 12 hours from 04:00 GMT on Wednesday. An estimated 2.3 million Jordanians are eligible to vote at 1,484 polling stations, choosing from 1,425 candidates, vying for a four-year term in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. “So far, 125,000 have cast their votes,” reported Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh from Amman.
Jordanians voted on Wednesday in their first parliamentary elections since the Arab Spring revolts, but a boycott by the main Islamist party will ensure no repeat of an Egypt-style revolution via the ballot box. The popular Muslim Brotherhood shunned the poll saying the electoral system had been rigged against large, populated urban areas where it is strongest in favor of rural tribal areas where conservative, pro-government forces are entrenched. Dozens of people lined up outside polling stations in several Jordanian towns before polls opened across the kingdom at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT), witnesses said.
From a podium at an Amman street rally, the leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood vowed that soon the country would become a “state in the Muslim Caliphate,” bringing cheers of “God is great” from the crowd of bearded, Islamist supporters. It was extreme rhetoric, suggesting that the monarchy that defines this U.S. ally in the Mideast will disappear to be replaced by an Islamic state. The Brotherhood, the top opposition group in Jordan, usually avoids such bold strokes and insists on its loyalty to the king. But the speech last week by Hammam Saeed points to how the heat is turning up in the country’s simmering political confrontations as Jordan holds parliamentary elections Wednesday that the government touts as a milestone in a gradual process of bringing greater democracy.
The candidates running in Jordan’s upcoming parliamentary elections have slogans and campaign promises that would sound familiar to voters in the historic recent polls of other Arab countries. But a quick glance at the Jordanian ballot reveals a list of hopefuls who stand apart from many of the competitors in other post-Arab Spring elections: Of the 1,400 candidates running on Wednesday for this monarchy’s 150-seat Parliament, only 22 are Islamists. After major gains in elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, Islamists are set to make little electoral impact in the first Jordanian polls since a pro-democracy movement broke out here in 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood — which is Jordan’s strongest opposition force and runs its most organized political party — is boycotting the vote, mainly in protest of an elections law it claims will prevent a fair vote.
Jordan’s powerful Islamists warned on Tuesday they will step up their campaign against next week’s parliamentary elections and against reforms pursued by King Abdullah II. The Jan. 23 vote could lead to a showdown between Abdullah and the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group leads a fractured opposition in Jordan that includes liberal youth activists, trade unionists, Arab nationalists and Communists. Traditionally, the Brotherhood has been loyal to the Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty, which claims ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad. Brotherhood leaders have joined Cabinets in the past and held top government positions. Unlike other Mideast nations where the Brotherhood was banned or suppressed until Arab Spring revolts, it has been a licensed political party for decades in Jordan. Now the fundamentalist group is openly seeking more power in the kingdom, seeing its peers now ruling in Egypt and Tunisia.
Jordan is less than two weeks away from a parliamentary election, but the vote has been overshadowed by the government’s recent fuel price hikes and decision to lower cigarette prices. Many Jordanians see the latter as either the government caving to business interests – a price floor made it difficult for manufacturers to compete – or an effort to distract voters from their dissatisfaction with the government as they prepare to go to the polls. A slash in government fuel subsidies late last year is hitting Jordanians hard in the pocketbook; a gas canister that used to cost 6.5 dinars now costs 10 (about $14).
Election officials in Jordan voiced concern about the attempts made by a number of candidates to buy people’s votes to win the parliamentary elections on January 23. The London-based al-Hayat daily quoted a Jordanian official as saying that his department has received reports about the illegal activities made by certain candidates who have embarked on buying people’s votes. The official underlined that the move is an instance of fraud and runs counter to the government promises about campaign against corruption and implementing reforms in the country, cautioning that the move threatens arrangement of healthy parliamentary elections in Jordan.
After months of discussions and debates, the parliamentary election season is finally upon us, and it exposes numerous flaws and weaknesses. Jordanians spent the better part of 2012 arguing about the best elections law for the country. In the aftermath of the Jordanian Arab Spring, many wanted an elections law that can usher in a new, more robust, representative parliamentary government. From the look of things, the 17th Parliament of Jordan will most likely resemble the 16th or the ones before it. A study conducted by Radio Al Balad’s parliamentary reporter Hamzeh Sou’d and investigative journalist Musab Rawashdeh showed that 139 candidates to the 17th Lower House served in earlier parliaments. Of the repeat MPs, 68 served in the 16th Parliament.
Campaigning for Jordan’s parliamentary elections kicked off this week with tribesmen, former army generals and businesspersons rushing to join the race. Early surveys predict less than a 50 percent voter turn-out due to growing anger against government policies and the absence of major opposition parties, including the Islamist movement, on the list of candidates. The national election committee on Tuesday announced final figures of registered candidates for the January 23 polls. It included 820 men and women and 60 joint tickets competing for the 150 seats.
Jordan’s electoral commission has scheduled the country’s parliamentary elections for Jan. 23. The polls are part of reforms launched by King Abdullah II to stave off an Arab Spring revolt in Jordan. Uprisings elsewhere have so far toppled four long-time Arab leaders. The Independent Electoral Commission announced the date of the polls on Tuesday. It is made up of renowned judges and was set up last year to manage and supervise the elections — a task previously in the hands of the government.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed a veteran independent politician on Wednesday as his new caretaker prime minister ahead of parliamentary elections — the last time he will make such an appointment, according to his own reform plan. The appointment of Abdullah Ensour is part of the king’s political roadmap that addresses popular pressure for a broader role in decision-making. It paves the way for elections scheduled for the end of this year or early 2013. That parliament will choose the next prime minister. The changes were decreed by Abdullah earlier this year to transfer more power to elected bodies and forestall any chance of an Arab Spring-style uprising similar to those that toppled regimes elsewhere in the region.
Jordan: Muslim Brotherhood says it is boycotting upcoming parliamentary elections | The Washington Post
Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood said Friday it will boycott upcoming parliamentary elections in protest over recent changes to the kingdom’s election laws, which it says fall short of opposition demands. A boycott would deal a blow to King Abdullah II, who has made his reform campaign the centerpiece of efforts to stave off protests similar to those that have toppled other rulers in the region’s so-called Arab Spring. Islamists have made gains all over the Middle East and show increasing strength in Jordan, where regular street protests over the past 18 months have called for wider public participation in politics andrestrictions on the king’s absolute powers.
Jordan: Opposition leaders suggest postponing elections to draft ‘acceptable law’ | The Jordan Times
Opposition leaders have suggested that parliamentary elections be delayed until next year, so that the government will have time to draft a new elections law acceptable by all. They made the remarks as political powers were still internally discussing their final stance on whether to boycott or participate in the upcoming elections, expected to be held before the end of this year. The Lower House on Sunday endorsed an amended version of the 2012 Elections Law, raising the number of House seats allocated for the national list to 27. A majority of MPs voted in favour of the government’s amendments, under which the number of seats allocated for the closed proportional list at the national level was raised to 27 instead of 17 as stipulated in the previous version.
Jordan: King urges Islamists to take part in elections despite dissatisfaction with reforms | The Washington Post
Jordan’s king urged his country’s Islamist opposition Sunday to take part in upcoming elections, despite their dissatisfaction with reforms. King Abdullah II’s appeal in a rare interview on Jordan TV was part of his attempt to engage with the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s main opposition. Islamists have made gains all over the region after Arab Spring uprisings and show increasing strength in Jordan. “Our doors and hearts are open to everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood and their party,” he said. “We call on all groups to take part in this reform process and participate in the legislative elections.” Abdullah is concerned that the Brotherhood’s party will boycott elections, undermining his reform plan and igniting a violent uprising, like elsewhere in the Mideast. No date has been set, though the election is expected this year.
Jordan: Jordan’s parliament endorses elections reforms gearing up for 2012 elections | The Washington Post
Jordan’s powerful Islamist opposition dismissed elections reforms Wednesday as “cosmetic,” hours after the legislature passed the changes to govern a parliamentary vote scheduled for later this year. Street protesters had demanded changes to the previous law dating from 2001, which the Islamist opposition says favors pro-government candidates and produces docile legislatures. The new law passed late Tuesday gives a concession to the opposition by allowing each eligible voter two votes, compared with one under the previous system. One vote goes to local candidates and the other to a 17-seat national list, giving country-wide ideological alliances like the Islamists a better chance to compete with region- or family-based politicians. But the opposition quickly said the changes were insufficient.
Activists hit the streets in various cities on Friday as protests over the controversial draft elections law stretched into their fourth day. Leftists, independents and supporters of the Islamist movement joined ranks in a series of rallies in several parts of the country against the Lower House’s endorsement of an “undemocratic” elections law and ongoing government austerity measures. Under the slogan “No to the one-vote formula”, activists rallied in Irbid, Salt, Tafileh and Maan to object to the bill, which they claim fails to break away from the one-person, one-vote system that favours independent candidates at the expense of political parties.
The Lower House on Tuesday referred the 2012 elections draft law to its legal committee despite protests by some lawmakers who had demanded the bill be repealed, saying it does not answer to reform requirements or help to build a modern civil state. But the legislature turned down Senate amendments to the divisive civil retirement bill, changes that would block any pensions for retired MPs who had served in public office for less than ten years. A majority voted for the election document’s referral to the panel during a session held under Speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi and attended by Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh and cabinet ministers.
The government has not worked out an electoral system but is leaning towards a mixed formula featuring the proportional list and the majority system, Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh told union leaders on Tuesday. The meeting with the heads of the country’s 14 professional associations was one of a series of meetings the premier initiated on Monday to arrive at consensus over the new elections law, under which national polls are expected to be held this year. The government is expected to submit the bill to Parliament before April, according to a time schedule it has committed itself to.
The Cabinet approved during its session yesterday that was chaired by Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh, a law governing the independent commission that will oversee and manage parliamentary elections.
Under the draft law which will become effective after being published in the Official Gazette and after passing through all its constitutional stages, the commission will oversee and manage parliamentary elections. The commission will also oversee other elections decided by the Cabinet in line with legislation.
Jordan: Reforms irreversible, preps underway for municipal, parliamentary elections | Jordan News Agency
His Majesty King Abdullah II said in an interview published today that there is no back-pedaling on reforms, unveiling that preparations are underway to hold municipal and parliamentary elections soon.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti Al Rai newspaper’s Khairallah Khairallah during the just-concluded World Economic Forum on Dead Sea shores, the King said “the next phase in Jordan’s march is one of issuing legislation and laws to go ahead with the process of political and socio-economic reforms.” The Kingdom, he said, had taken major milestones along the path of reform, mainly completion of constitutional amendments that required a drastic review and passage of legislation with a vision of comprehensive reform.
He said the new government’s priority is pursuit of the reform and modernization drive and “fulfillment of the requirements of this stage,” adding that the choice of Awn Khasawneh to form the government was due to his credentials as a reputable international jurist and for his acceptance at the domestic scene. He said the new administration will seek to put in place new legislation governing political life, first and foremost of which are the electoral and political parties laws, which should be ratified through consensus, in addition to an independent commission overseeing elections and the constitutional court.
Authorities have endorsed 24 new municipalities amid protests continuing for a second day, with dissatisfied citizens closing roads and staging sit-ins in various parts of the country. The endorsement of the new municipalities, which came despite a Cabinet decision on Tuesday to look into outstanding applications after the December 27 municipal elections, raises the number of these new entities to 123, making the total number of municipalities 216.
In the Village of Salem, a southern district of Amman, residents closed a major highway leading to Sahab, east of the capital, demanding that the government establish a municipality for their area and separate it from the Greater Amman Municipality. An official source at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs told The Jordan Times that the demand has been met, pending the signature of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit.
The government on Tuesday announced that municipal elections will be held on December 27, ending speculation that they would be postponed until after the end of the year.
“These are the nation’s polls, not the government’s,” Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Abdullah Abu Rumman told reporters.
The Senate on Thursday endorsed the municipalities draft law for 2011 as referred from the Lower House, with some amendments. During a session chaired by Senate President Taher Masri with the attendance of Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, members of the Senate made suggestions over the recommendations presented by the Chamber’s Legal Committee on the law before endorsing it.
The Lower House endorsed the law in late July, raising the women’s quota and ensuring more independence and funds for municipalities. Under the law, inhabitants of any district with a population of 5,000 or more can request the establishment of their own municipality or disengagement from a merger with a larger municipality.
Jordan’s opposition parties on Tuesday rejected the newly proposed election law for what they said its failure to adopt fully the principle of proportional representation.
The new draft election law was proposed this week by the National Dialogue Committee (NDC) to spearhead political reform that has been sought by four months of protests that were inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
“We have followed up with deep concern and disappointment the new draft election law which has been worked out by the NDC,” the Coordination Committee of the Opposition Parties said in a statement.