Jordan Government Suspends Discussions on Electoral Law

Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 - 08:30
Amman - Mohammed Kheir Al-Rawashdeh

Jordan's government has adjourned discussions on proposed amendments to the electoral law until the end of this year, according to political sources.

Other sources, said the bill would be referred to the parliament for discussion depending on the developments in the region.

Several parties want to make extensive amendments to the electoral law, given that the current law, based on which the elections were held in 2016, is the first to abolish the one-vote principle since the end of the 1980s.

The postponement of discussions come at a time when the government of Omar al-Razzaz has pledged to amend a set of laws, including the electoral law.

A few months ago, a technical committee was formed to study the amendments that need to be introduced to the law in line with the anticipated levels of turnout particularly among the youth.

Several members of parliament have adopted a wait-and-see approach. The referral of the draft-law to the parliament would be an indicator of its dissolution ahead of snap elections.

Representatives of certain governorates have slim chances of returning to the parliament amid reports that the number of seats in provincial constituencies will be reduced.

The sources, who asked not to be named, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the revised electoral law would include a basic provision reducing the number of seats in the next council and merging the seats of female deputies.

Officials in the executive and legislative branches support the option of adopting the principle of the national list in the amendments and allocating 12 seats to party lists, senior officials told Asharq Al-Awsat.

During elections, Jordanian parties complain of limited chances to win seats in the parliament after the public lost confidence in their campaign programs.

In other news, the first anniversary of the Fourth Circle movement which coincides in Ramadan may be an opportunity to renew the rejection of government policies. The movement will be supported this time by the unemployed committees in the provinces, as well as non-partisan popular movements that demand political and economic reforms.

This requires new approaches whether through drastic changes in the government or nominating a new political figure who can face the country’s challenges instead of Razzaz.

Meanwhile, maintaining the electoral system and supporting the nomination of party lists would narrow the chances of competition for the Islamist Movement that participated in the 2016 elections after boycotting the 2010 and 2013 polls following its participation in the 2007 rigged elections.

Politicians do not rule out that the Islamist Movement will be forced to participate in the upcoming elections, despite the possibility of adopting national lists on a partisan basis.

The Movement is represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose license was revoked by the government, and its political arm the Islamic Action Front.

In the event the new law reduced the number of seats in the parliament, it will be at the expense of seats in provinces dominated by tribal communities, not densely-populated governorates such as Amman, Az-Zarqa, and Irbid.

So the new law should seriously address the principle of demographic representation and not just geographic challenges, according to a political source.

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