Historic Turnout in Jordanian Parliamentary Elections

On January 23, 2013, Jordan voted for a new parliament. According to officials, 56.5% of the registered voters turned out which corresponds to the highest turnout level since 1989.

For Kind Abdullah II, the elections are an important step in his series of reforms undertaken over the last two years as a response to the Arab Spring. Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour who is expected to tender his resignation to the king shortly after the vote called the election a “stepping stone, or a station, on the path of more vigorous, serious, real and genuine reforms. ”As part of the reform series, the king is for the first time set to name a prime minister from the largest blocs, or someone approved by them.  “More democracy is coming,” Abdullah Ensour told reporters.

However, neither the opposition nor observers believe that the elections will bring real political change. For government critics, the king's moves do not go far or fast enough to end his monopoly on power. “The parliament being elected has no colour or taste in the absence of the opposition,” said Zaki Bani Irsheid, a leading member of the Islamic Action Front, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. And the king will still be able to dissolve the government or parliament.

The Islamic Action Front and other opposition parties boycotted the elections as they consider the electoral system as rigged in favor of the monarchy: they argue that the law underrepresents cities, where two thirds of Jordan’s population live, and marginalizes Jordanians of Palestinian origin.  

“Deputies will not be able to do anything for us because they are controlled by the king and Cabinet, so why should I vote?” Mohammed Abu-Summaqa  asked, adding that he would not cast his ballot at all. Others are more positive. Government employee Madallah Hamid said that he was voting because he trusted the king's liberalization moves: “You don't just press a button and suddenly you have reform and democracy […]. It's a process and I have confidence in the king's approach.” And Mr. Snaid said that after debating whether to join the boycott, he decided that the best place to fight corruption and economic inequality was from inside the system.


BBC (23.01.2013) “Jordan election: Voting ends as Islamists allege fraud”

Kareem Fahim, The New York Times (23.01.2013) “Despite Boycott, More Than Half of Voters Are Said to Turn Out in Jordan Election”

Al Jazeera (24.01.2013) “New parliament elected in Jordan polls”

ARD (24.01.2013) “Stammesvertreter und Königstreue gewinnen Wahl”

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