On September 20, 2016 the most recent parliamentary elections took place in Jordan in accordance with a new electoral law aimed at democratization after King Abdullah II dissolved the parliament in May this year.
Jordan is still an island of stability in this region, next to Syria and with around one million refugees. It is attacking the Islamic State (IS, ISIS or Daesh). One of its pilots was burned live in a cage by the terrorists. The king joint to bomb the IS in a fighter jet (photo).
According to the official website of the government, the 41st-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad, His Majesty King Abdullah II assumed his constitutional powers as monarch on 7 February 1999. “Following the leadership legacy of his father, the late King Hussein, King Abdullah has made the welfare of Jordan’s people the cornerstone of his policies for national development, regional peace and global coexistence. The King’s special concern for the future of Jordan’s young people has put youth engagement, education and opportunity at the top of his agenda. At home, he has paired economic reforms with political liberalization and an innovative program of national development. He has overseen sweeping educational reforms, which today are energizing Jordan’s private sector and preparing Jordan’s youth for global competitiveness and leadership.”
For the elections Jordan was divided in 23 electoral districts and all the candidates were registered on lists in their respective district, allowing thus the Jordanians to vote for more than one candidate. Out of the 130 seats for the Chamber of Deputies 15 are reserved for women, 9 for the Christians and 3 for the minorities and that are among other specificities of Jordan’s electoral law. The Senate is made up of senators directly appointed by the King.
According to all local and international observers, the elections were carried out in democratic conditions and without major incidents that might have tainted the results. A lower participation to the vote, of 37% of citizens entitled to do so only, has to be noted, a rather important diminution compared to 56% participation at 2013 elections. That is seemingly due to the fact that the Jordanians were not convinced enough that the parliament can bring in important reforms for the Kingdom’s political and social life. We noticed a lower participation to the vote in the urban areas such as Amman – 23%, while in Zarka and in Irbid the participation was lower than the national average as well.
- The Muslim Brotherhood participated to the recent elections (after they boycotted the 2010 and 2013 elections) through its political wing – the Islamic Action Front (IAF), that formed a coalition called the National Coalition for Reform (NCR) with Christian candidates.
- The said coalition was made up more on tactical electoral basis in order to get more votes than on a political affiliation. NCR participated with 120 candidates in 20 districts, Amman, Zarka, Irbid and Salt included. Although they expected to win more than 20 seats, NCR got finally only 15, out of which 10 belonged to the IAF and the other 5 to their allies.
- We noticed also that 50% of NCR’s lists being present mostly in southern parts of the Kingdom, where the tribal influence is dominant, did not get even one seat. NCR got totally 160000 votes, around 11% of the total, mostly in Amman, Zarka and Irbid and that was a serious defeat as compared to 1989 elections when they got 27% of the seats.
- The Muslim Brotherhood Sociery (MBS) – registered one year ago – didn’t got even one seat although it participated in an Irbid’s district and that puts under question mark their political future. The Zamzam Initiative and the Wassat Party got 3 seats each and that make it possible the two make a parliamentary alliance.
Women got 20 seats as they were on the lists of six parties, the Islamists’ ones included. There were 218 woman candidates who got 266000 votes totally and that is a new high for the Jordanian elections, although only 32% of the women’s electorate participated in the elections.
Although it was estimated that the new electoral law would allow the political parties to be better represented in the parliament, out of the total of 215 candidates of around 50 political parties there were only 22 candidates belonging to seven parties who succeeded in being elected (as the atomisation of the parties is one of the results), i.e. around 17% of the total. No nationalistic or leftist party succeeded in being elected to the parliament. At least 50 of the former deputies were reelected. In fact, the parliament’s majority is made up of businessmen, tribal personalities and professionals in other different fields.
Jordan’s latest elections are indeed a model of stability and of peacefully solving the disputes at the ballot box, in contrast to the neighbouring countries, Syria, Irak and Egypt. Nevertheless, the murder of the writer Nahed Hattar emerged as a complication of this message. In their great majority, the deputies are pro-regime and with tribal affiliation so that a relative calmness within the Jordanian law making body is secured.
After the announcement of the results of the elections, King Abdullah charged the prime-minister in office Hani al-Mulki to form the new government. The latter presented the King the list of 29 ministers out of whom 22 were members of the preceding cabinet. Among the seven new ministers five are members of the government for the first time and by way of comparison with the preceding government there are two woman ministers only as against four woman ministers in the former cabinet.
The 17th government since the ascent to the throne of King Abdullah II in 1999 took the oath on September 28, 2016 and in accordance with the Jordanian Constitution most of the powers rest with the King who appoints the government, approves the laws and may dissolve the parliament.