Only a few days remain before Jordanians vote on November 9th, and the mobilisation of electoral bases and debates between candidates has reached a fever pitch.
As the deadline for withdrawal of candidacy for Jordan's Sixteenth Parliament passed on Monday (November 1st), Saad Shehab, director of elections in the Jordanian Ministry of Interior, said 87 candidates had withdrawn their nominations since the start of the nomination period on October 10th.
This brings the number of candidates competing for 120 seats in all electoral districts in the Kingdom to 763, including the quota seats for women.
According to the new Jordanian election law, candidates are entitled to withdraw their candidacy up to one week prior to election day.
At the start of the nomination period, the Ministry of Interior published the names of 850 candidates. However, that number has dropped 10% in the days leading up to the elections as a result of bargaining and trade-offs in the political arena
Candidates focus on young voters
"The attention in the remaining period will be directed almost entirely at the younger generation, as they are the segment of the population that will determine the identity of the next Parliament," said parliamentary expert and political observer Ahmed Nusoor.
Nusoor cited data from the Civil Status and Passports Department that estimate the number of eligible voters is 2.58 million, with young voters constituting about 70% of the total.
"Many of those running for the Sixteenth Parliament are betting on the decisive leverage of young people, focusing on services sought by young people and reducing unemployment rates specifically in their segment, amid widespread unemployment in general," he said.
Omar Tarawneh, who earned his Bachelor's degree in nursing two years ago and is still unemployed, expressed concern that "candidates will renege on their promises to young people, who are suffering the most from the high rates of unemployment and declining employment opportunities".
Lawyer Ayman Salam, however, said young people have a chance to determine who will represent them.
"The youth segment ought to be the driving force in the upcoming elections and should define with its votes the composition of the next parliament, along all party lines," he said.
According to Marwan Qteishat, the Director General of the Civil Status and Passports Department, 373,000 citizens have reached the age of 18 in the time between the last parliamentary election in 2007 and January 1st 2010. About 243,000 of them, or 10% of all voters, are registered to vote in all regions of the Kingdom.
Retired government employee Subhi Abdullah described the countdown to election day as "the largest in the history of parliamentary elections in the Kingdom since 1989", pointing to the widening competition between candidates, especially in capital districts.
Meanwhile, political adviser to Prime Minister Samir Rifai and spokesperson for the parliamentary elections Samih al-Maaytah announced the distribution of 1492 polling and counting stations across Jordan.
He said that four non-Jordanian organisations, as well as the European Union, have requested to monitor the elections and observe the voting and counting process. The organisations include the National Democratic Institute and two Arab organisations, including the Arab Election Network.
Al-Maaytah said the government welcomes election monitoring and sees no problem with approving requests from any human rights organisations wanting to monitor the upcoming elections.
Shehab estimated there are about 40,000 staff members involved in the election process.