Parliamentary elections are officially up and running now. The first two days of candidate registration saw 916 names and as Lina points out, 15.8% of which are women. That’s a pretty decent percentage in my case, considering that the majority of that number are from fairly conservative cities like Irbid and Kerak. Although it’s yet to be seen, I’m betting that the voters are really going to get shortchanged this time around with the unnecessary women’s quota.
In a survey conducted by Al-Ghad shows that voter turnout is expected to be at around 70% of which 76.5% claim to be voting for an independent candidate and 8.0% hoping to vote for a party candidate. These results are very similar to that of a similar poll conducted back in June for the municipal elections. Parliamentary elections of 2003 saw voter turnout some where around 57%. While voter turnout has increased over the years, the government is launching various workshops and campaigns to push people to vote. I’d be interested to see where such campaigns are focused geographically.
The survey also showed the following reasons given for voting:
1- Past Service: 46.7%
2- Tribal/Family Loyalty: 23.4%
3- Knowing the Candidate Personally: 12.7%
4- Candidate’s Political Positions: 10.5%
Exciting ain’t it?
Meanwhile, as Khalaf points out, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) seem to be running more moderate candidates this time around. This is perhaps in an attempt to appeal to a wider base, especially in light of a general depreciation in their popularity numbers. Nevertheless, the IAF, in its eternal wisdom and glory, and after what I assume was countless hours of endless strategic meetings, have also picked the perfect slogan for their party’s election run. “Islam Huwa al-7al” (Islam Is The Solution). I bet you wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years. Committee head for the party, Hikmet Al-Rawashdeh, said the slogan is representative of the party’s platform that’s based on “fixing” the country. In case you were wondering what that meant, it pretty much consists of either flipping through the pages of the Quran to find an answer to unemployment, or guessing.
The IAF head Zaki Bin Irshaid was not selected by the Muslim Brotherhood to run this time and that’s probably due to his running into some hot water with the tribes over an interview in Jordan Business in which he supposedly called them ‘uneducated’. Daily Al Rai launched various editorials and opinion pieces against him throughout September, mostly in an attempt to paint the party as anti-Jordanian. Zaki attempted to fight back, mostly because Al Rai did misquote him, but the party generally didn’t put up a big fight, opting to make it less of a story by shutting up. Personally, what I found most interesting about the original article in question was the fact that the party, after all these years, had not come up with so much as a plan to fight unemployment; one of the biggest issues plaguing the country today.
In other news:
The government, despite its past refusal to do so, is looking to allow NGOs to monitor the elections in light of alleged election fraud that took place during the municipal elections a few weeks back. It’s a good step in the right direction as there is a dire need for independent election monitoring the country. To what extent this might have an impact on limiting the potential for rigging, well, that’s another story. What is also interesting is the approval of several NGOs to monitor the monitors. A project is being launched to monitor media coverage of the elections up to the final day of campaigning. I’d be personally very interested to see the results.
“Election Watch” is an attempt to recap the events leading up to Jordan’s Parliamentary Elections of 2008. Information will be gathered from a wide variety of sources, focusing on local and international media, as well as various commentaries by Jordanian Bloggers. “Election Watch” will also be published on 7iber dot com.