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Parliamentary election a matter of indifference for Jordanians?

September 20, 2016 - JORDAN

The kingdom plans a parliamentary election, and its new caretaker government has the task of convincing Jordanians that voting will make a difference.

Money is tight. A drop in Gulf aid following the fall in oil prices and the financial strain of the flood of refugees from the Syrian civil war have exacerbated weaknesses throughout the economy.

The country's preparations include constitutional amendments enacted in May, and the swearing-in of the government and prime minister, Hani Mulki, by King Abdullah. Reporting on the change of government, Reuters notes that Mulki will be overseeing preparations for elections that have long been marred by accusations of meddling by the authorities and the powerful security forces.

Writing in Al Monitor in July, Jordanian-based journalist Aaron Magid noted that parliament's ratification of the constitutional amendments was a worrying development for citizens who want an independent legislative branch. He predicts that ongoing economic problems, previous cases of electoral fraud and consolidation of the power of the king will push "many Jordanians to consider staying away from the ballot box in September."

The country has some 38 registered political parties, but boycotts will trim the number competing for seats. Reuters sources see pro-monarchy parties and independents left to contest the election. The Muslim Brotherhood movement's political arm in Jordan, the Islamic Action Front, is facing increasing legal curbs on its activities and is not expected to compete. It has strong grassroots support in urban centers, according to the wire service, and its absence could undermine the legitimacy of the election.

Why many Jordanians have little stomach for upcoming elections ALMonitor 26 Jul 2016)

Jordan king swears in new government to prepare for elections (Reuters 1 Jun 2016)

Date written/update: 2016-07-27