Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Repercussions of Middle East elections

Q&A about Jordan's election

Global Journalist: Why is Jordan a country to know?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country with significant geographic importance — it’s surrounded by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. With limited natural resources, Jordan largely depends on tourism, services and foreign aid, of which the U.S. is the main provider. Jordan, together with Egypt, is one of only two Arab countries that have made peace with Israel.

GJ: What’s the background of the election?

Both domestic protests and Arab Spring pressured King Abdullah II to speed up the reform in Jordan. King Abdullah dissolved the previous parliament two years earlier, hoping to have a more convincing parliament to push through unpopular austerity measures.

GJ: How does the government work?

The lower house of the two-chamber parliament is comprised of 150 seats and elected once every four years. The upper house has 75 members, and the King appoints them.

GJ: What’s Jordan’s electorate?

Jordan has a population of 6.8 million, among which more than 3 million are eligible to vote. The government says roughly 2.3 million voters registered to vote.

GJ: What’s new in this election?

* The Jan. 23 election was the 17th time since 1946 when Jordan became a nation. However, it is the first time the government set up the Independent Electoral Commission that oversaw the entire election.

* The women’s seat quota increased from 12 seats to 15 seats.

* For the first time, observers were allowed to monitor the election.

* The prime minister will be designated based on consolations with the parliamentary bloc that has the majority. Traditionally, the King appoints the prime minister.

* The proportion of Palestinian-Jordanian background members in the parliament increased from about 15 percent to more than 25 percent.

GJ: What’s the turnout?

The Independent Elections Commission said about 1.3 million Jordanians showed up at the polls, indicating a 56.6 percent turnout.

GJ: Why has the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the election?

The Muslim Brotherhood complained that the new electorate systems favored the monarchy. They also refuted the turnout number. The International Republican Institute, an observer group, heard numerous accusations of illegal campaigns on Election Day. Two candidates were arrested for buying votes the day before polling.

GJ: What’s the reaction to the election?

Domestic and international observers generally praised the integrity of the election. The European Union’s Election Observation Mission said the election was remarkably organized, the counting was proficiently professional, and there was no violation. The Independent Electoral Commission said that this election should be seen as the beginning of the process.

By Dandan Zou, Casie Kolbinsky, Adam Aton and Kyle Cardine.


Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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