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.
“It is just a cosmetic change meant to buy time and it’s insufficient for real reforms,” said Hamza Mansour, leader of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood. He said the law “still allows pro-government loyalists to win a majority in parliament, undercutting the people’s desire to become the real source of power in the country.”
Mansour said his group favored the 1989 elections law, which allowed Jordanians multiple votes and saw his group winning almost half of the seats in the first elections in more than two decades. He said the Islamic Action Front will soon debate if it will take part in the upcoming elections, which it boycotted for several years in protest against the previous law. A final date for the vote has not yet been set.