Jordanians go to the polls

Parliamentary elections are being held in Jordan for the first time since King Abd Allah came to the throne five years ago.

    Election results are expected on

    Polls opened on Tuesday and are expected to yield results on Wednesday.

    The country’s main opposition party,The Islamic Action Front (IAF) - the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has 30 candidates running.

    The IAF is expected to win nearly a quarter of the 110 seats.

    IAF representatives will not be able to block unpopular bills due to the government majority, but analysts suggest that they could embarrass the government through delaying tactics in parliament and forcing it to be more accountable.

    Jordanian authorities have said the elections will be held in an open and free manner, but opposition members say the vote is designed according to rules favouring pro-government candidates.

    The electoral law was changed to favour tribal candidates from the countryside, who can be depended upon not to challenge the government.

    In 1997, the IAF boycotted parliamentary elections. Their absence made the parliament a pro-government ‘rubber stamp’, as loyalists tightened their grip on power.

    Tuesday’s elections are being overshadowed by the current socio-political climate in the region. Jordanians are upset with the US occupation of Iraq, and have been angry and resentful over the US-backed peace plan to end the Palestinian intifada.

    This could bring a low voter turnout, especially in cities, say analysts.

    The elections are the third multi-party polls since the kingdom began a process of democratisation after riots in 1989.


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