Jordanians gear up for November 9th elections

Candidate Abu Hatab is greeted by a supporter at his electoral centre in Amman. [REUTERS/Ali Jarekji]

Candidate Abu Hatab is greeted by a supporter at his electoral centre in Amman. [REUTERS/Ali Jarekji]



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Over two million eligible Jordanian voters are getting ready to elect a parliament on Tuesday (November 9th) despite a boycott by the country's largest opposition group, the Islamic Action Front.

The Jordanian government has put the final touches on the technical and administrative preparations for the Tuesday elections.

During a tour of the elections operations headquarters on Sunday, Prime Minister Samir Rifai vowed free and fair elections.

"November 9th will be a day for all Jordanians to celebrate this democratic achievement and should be a source of pride for all Jordanians," Rifai was quoted as saying by the Jordan Times.

Rifai expressed confidence the Jordanian citizens will observe their "constitutional responsibility to participate in the elections."

The prime minister on Monday said November 9th will be a public holiday, calling on all sectors and companies to "fulfil their national duty by enabling their employees to vote."

The turnout will be "within the typical range for Jordanian elections", said Samih Maaytah, adviser to the Prime Minister and spokesman for the parliamentary elections. He described the election campaigning as "active and good."

Of 763 candidates in the upcoming Jordanian parliamentary elections, 85 are candidates representing 15 licensed political parties. The rest are independents, though some are backed by political parties without being members.

The 15 participating parties are divided along two fronts, the opposition (4 parties) and national (12 parties), with the opposition group running under the name of the National Democratic List.

Conspicuous in their absence are the two parties boycotting the elections, The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the biggest political party in the Kingdom, and the Democratic Popular Unity Party (Unity), who have decided that participation is futile under an electoral law based on the principle of "one vote."

The Arab Baath opposition party is participating in the vote but has fielded no candidates of its own.

IAF secretary-general Hamza Mansour justified the boycott of the elections as "a political act and a logical consequence of the political impasse, deterioration of economic and social conditions, swelling poverty, unemployment, and high indebtedness."

However, the Secretary-General of the United Jordanian Front, Abdul Razzak Tbeishat stressed the importance of active participation in the elections by political parties, even though his party does not approve of the Election Law.

The high number of party lists represents a "new platform-oriented political experience which could prove beneficial to partisan and political life in Jordan", said political researcher Radwan al-Majal. He said that the boycott by the Islamists could have led to this higher participation.

"These parliamentary elections party lists represent a broad spectrum of political hues dominated by a tribal flavour," said political writer Rakan Saaydah.

Ahmad Safasfa, a 27-year-old nurse, echoed this view. He said that he would vote for the tribal candidate regardless of any other consideration, because "the people of my area expect more services from their region's member in the House of Representatives."

The Jordanian parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives, whose 120 members are elected every four years, and the Senate, comprising 60 members appointed by the king.



    سلوى النجار


    Jordan organized parliamentary elections one or two days ago, but can we say that these elections will change anything in Jordan or convey the voice of the citizen through the parliament? Certainly, the answer is no, because the king controls everything, and all the MPs are his servants. He has the final say in all affairs, and he can appoint or dismiss anyone. He rules the kingdom in a totalitarian and barbaric way, without consulting anyone. He controls the parliament, which is no more than decoration. Hence, we find that the opposition parties did not participate, because they know that there is no chance for them or for any other party to express its opinion in the parliament. The Jordanian king can appoint or fire anyone at any time; and in addition, he has the right to dissolve the parliament itself whenever he wishes. In other words, if the parliament does not obey the orders properly, it will simply be dissolved. We also notice that all MPs fear the king and respect his decisions without arguing. After all of this, can we say that we have a parliament? The main task of the parliament is to defend the rights of the people and prevent any official or ruler from ruling tyrannically or manipulating the decisions that affect the destiny of the country. We know that the parliament must serve as a watchdog on the government and the king, not the other way around; otherwise, it will be manipulated.

  • حسن محمد الجابي


    We all know that the Jordanian parliament is nothing but decoration, and its members are toys that the king can move around as he wishes. As for legitimacy and decision-making, as well as changing things and affecting the decisions, this is nonexistent, and even the elections that occurred were like a show to say to the whole world that we have democracy and freedom, and that the representatives of the people run the country. I do not know why these people run for office, while they know that if anyone got into the parliament and uttered a single word that crossed the red lines, he would be humiliated as an example to the others. He also has to keep silent and to approve everything issued or proposed by the beloved king, as the MPs usually call him.

  • مصطفى حسين


    The problem of the Jordanian parliament is not the only problem of almost all Arab parliaments, which are useless and serve as décor under the control of the leaders, presidents and kings over all affairs of the Arab states. The parliaments have become mere sessions during which the MPs drink tea and sign the decrees of the presidents. It is not strange to see the Jordanian parliament living the same story and in the same conditions, because none of its members can make a decision or vote against the decisions of the king, because the king’s decrees are unarguable. I believe that it would be better to dissolve the parliament and let its members sit at home, because their meetings and sessions are useless…

  • غانم رشيد


    I defy any member of the Jordanian parliament to criticize the king or the regime in Jordan, despite the countless mistakes and the bad practices of the king and his government. I claim that no member of the parliament can criticize or oppose the wishes or decisions of the king; quite the contrary, the role of the members of the parliament is to applaud only. Hence, whatever the king says is true, and all his decisions are wise and deliberate, and must be approved by the parliament. After that, I wonder about the role of the parliament in monitoring the performance of the king and the government in Jordan. This is the real role of parliamentarians and representatives of the people, who are supposed to maintain their rights. This is the trust that the Jordanians assigned to you when they elected you. You should be ashamed of your current positions, because history is merciless and your names will go down in the black pages of the book of history, because you were not up to the responsibility that was entrusted to you. This is evident from your silence and blind obedience to the king, who is a fallible human being, just like all of us. Your role is to reform, monitor, and judge the government rather than submit to the wishes of the king. In my opinion, any MP is more important to the country than the king himself is, because the latter inherited his office without any intervention on the part of the people, while the former was chosen by the citizens. Hence, I demand that all the members of the Jordanian parliament be vigilant and do what they are required to do, to maintain the interests of the Jordanian people; otherwise, I call them to resign from this shameful parliament that has made us laughingstock in front of the other countries.

  • خالد


    This is a good article, but the question is: do we need a parliament in Jordan? Why doesn’t the government sell the seats in auctions? I think that this would be better for the treasury.