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.
The main dispute is over a new election reform law. The state says it gives concessions to the opposition by allowing each citizen two separate ballots. 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 regional or family-based politicians. Islamists argue that the law would still give a majority to pro-government loyalists, producing another docile legislature.