Women and the Muslim Brotherhood make gains in Jordan elections

Women took 20 out of the 130 seats in the Jordanian parliament. The number of seats in the parliament had been reduced from 150 to 130 but women won two more seats than in the much larger parliament.

There were 252 female candidates the most in Jordan's history. Asma Khamer, a former Jordanian justice minister said: “It’s a sign of growing acceptance among the public. People are now ready to see women’s names and photographs on political campaign posters around the country.”
The Muslim Brotherhood ended a decades-long boycott of elections that skews representation in favor of thinly populated rural areas dominated by tribal politics as compared to the cities where the Brotherhood is much stronger. Parties are not allowed in Jordan based on religion. The Brotherhood has joined with Christians and also prominent national figures to create the National Coalition for Reform (NCR). The Brotherhood is the main group in the coalition. Preliminary results show that the NCR won at least 16 seats. A prominent Brotherhood leader said the NCR would seek alliances with other groups in an attempt to form an effective opposition.
As Wikipedia notes, the Jordanian political system is dominated by King Abdullah II: Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, but the King holds wide executive and legislative powers. He serves as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief and appoints the prime minister and heads of security directorates. The prime minister is free to choose his own cabinet and regional governors. However, the king may dissolve parliament and dismiss the government.For years, the king has faced little opposition from a parliament dominated by pro-government leaders, businessmen and ex-security officials often elected on the basis of promises that address local issues.
Even though the parliament will not have power to block legislation or cabinet appointments, there would be livelier debate rather than a mostly rubber-stamp parliament as in the past. Repressive legislation has been passed with little opposition. The NCR is likely to press for more power for the legislature and a more representative system.
The turnout was poor with only 37 percent turnout. Experts say the low turnout is the result of the lack of political power that the parliament has. International observers praised Jordan for holding relatively well-administered elections. However, the EU chief observer, Jo Leinen said: "There is no equality of the vote. Under the current districting, large urban areas are under-represented, and sparsely populated or rural areas are considerably over-represented."
Ayoub Alnmour and election analyst said: “In Jordan, parliament doesn’t have sufficient constitutional authority to prove itself as a change-maker at a policy level, which is unfortunate. It is more focused on tribal representation, local services and job opportunities for family members. For me, the major short-term impact this election is bringing isn’t political. It’s social.”
Jordan is a key ally of many Western countries. It has a huge problem dealing with the flood of refugees from the war in nearby Syria and Iraq.
According to a report in the Middle East Eye the Brotherhood won nearly a quarter of the votes but just 15 seats according to electoral commission results. Ali al-Sukkar, an electoral spokesperson for the Brotherhood said that this showed the "elections law is unfair and like nothing anywhere in the world." Nevertheless, Zaki Inshid, a senior Brotherhood leader, said that "although these elections were not free from some violations, they did constitute a step forward." Although the new system was in part designed to meet demands of the Brotherhood, the results were still quite skewed with the Brotherhood getting 24 percent of the vote but only 12 percent of the seats. Parties on the left were unable to gain a single seat. Ahmad Nawfal, a professor of politics at the University of Jordan said the election proved that all government attempts to weaken the Brotherhood had failed while other factions were unable to elect members.


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