Jordanian candidates focus on economy amid lack of political platforms

As Jordan's November 9th parliamentary election approaches, more campaign posters are visible along the kingdom's streets and highways. [Ali al-Rawashdeh/Al-Shorfa]

As Jordan's November 9th parliamentary election approaches, more campaign posters are visible along the kingdom's streets and highways. [Ali al-Rawashdeh/Al-Shorfa]

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Jordanians will head to the polls November 9th to elect representatives in Parliament for the next four years in a climate of controversy.

The electoral law was rejected by some political forces including the Islamic Action front, which decided to boycott the election this year.

According to government data, 2,373,576 voters spread over 12 provinces and three desert regions are eligible to vote in the elections for the 16th Parliamentary session.

Samih Al-Maaytah, the spokesman for parliamentary elections, said 1,800,000 citizens are expected to participate in the election of 120 representatives. A quota system mandates the election of 12 women candidates.

Saad Shihab, director of elections in the ministry of interior, said the number of candidates in the parliamentary elections is 853, 711 males and 142 females vying for seats in the House of Representatives. In Amman there are 190 candidates, including 17 women.

The government is attempting to increase voter turnout amid reports that it will remain low, particularly in key districts such as Amman and Zarqa because of the boycott by the Islamic Movement and voters who decide not to participate. However, participation is expected to be higher in tribal and desert regions.

Ali al-Khawaldah, director of Civil Society Institutions and Elections in the Ministry of Political Development, which is responsible for efforts to expand democratic participation, said, "The ministry implemented many action plans through an interactive process based on field activities and direct meetings including a participation caravan aimed at activating civil society groups, especially in the places that are targeted the least in the 2010 parliamentary elections, in addition to the printing of 100,000 pamphlets calling for the exercise of the democratic right [to vote]. "

Analysts expect the next parliament to be more reflective of tribal affiliations rather than political agendas.

Walid Hosni, a media activist and parliamentary affairs editor, noted that "ballot propositions are different from one district to another in the Kingdom, but all propositions carry the same theme emphasizing service-centric slogans that reflect the citizens’ interests, particularly their economic concerns."

Hosni added that "a political platform is absent from the scene this election, as a result of the largest party (the Islamic Action Front) boycotting the elections. Rallies are limited to candidates using slogans promoting improvement of economic and service conditions in their respective districts."

Hosni expects parliament to consist mainly of independents, representatives with service-oriented agendas, with tribal affiliations playing an important role.

Rural and desert areas are expected to provide higher turnout, owing to tribal dynamics and loyalties that compel tribes to support candidates hailing from the same region.

Wadad Abdullah is an unemployed university graduate who votes in a sub-district in Salt province. She complained that "there are no actual programmes with the exception of party blocs that have presented specific agendas and some of the candidates here and there."

Abdul Hadi Al-Majali, the Jordan National Movement party's appointed president, stressed the need for "close scrutiny in evaluating candidates for the Jordanian Parliament, taking into account political and social considerations."

Meanwhile, Muhammad Al-Rahahla, a 26-year-old journalist, said, "My vote will go to the candidate who will address the economic concerns of the people of our region."

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    عبد الله ابو حامده

    2010-10-31

    Will the lucky representatives who succeed in the elections serve the country and the citizen, or they will just be busy pursuing their personal interests?