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.
I’m not sure that the IAF’s candidates are more moderate. A certain Akram Kawasmi who bears an eerie resemblance to Ayman Zawahiri is rising the slogan “Leta7keem al shari3a el eslamieh”. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is. On the other hand, I’m still excited at the fact that now we get to see more influential women running for Parliament. Let’s hope all goes well…
seriously how am i supposed to take someone seriously when he is running for the parliamentary election with slogans like “the right of return is an indisputable right”, ” the religious holdings of Jerusalem are a responsibility in our necks”
and if you win ur supposed to do what about any of those ?! all it does is it paints them with shade of nativity. Anyways still of the opinion that its too much of an obvious sham to actually waste time on, we saw how the last one went…
Pheras: “moderate” i suppose is meant to be used in a relative context. in other words, compared to some of those elected in the past, this group may pass for moderates. as for my own definition of the word, that is indeed another story.
bambam: the IAF’s concern with foreign affairs more than domestic ones is nothing new. its one of things that makes them appealing to their base.
i and my family members have decided to continue a tradition of boycotting all elections since we consider it an insult to the concept of democracy and to those Jordanians who live in areas such as Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid (read: mostly Jordanians of palestinian origin) where my vote is worth a third or quarter of a vote of someone outside this area.
I don’t know what to say! This whole story is confusing. As of the past experience we had with the elections; we didn’t notice any changes after it – no promises were kept. It makes me feel like lost, should I vote? Or no one worth it. I sometimes look at it in an optimistic way thinking that something may change, but I won’t deny it, my voice is precious and I’m stingy! The thought of being a contributor on a failed idea frightens me and I won’t give it that easy and contribute in the corruption. I don’t know. I’ll wait, observe, and then decide.
Maybe religious parties sloganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s are not realistic, but tell me, who are???
Nas nas thats the idea the two slogans i quoted were from two…. wait for it… Christian seat nominees.
bambam: independents? that’s interesting…
i am amazed at how pro-regime bloggers criticize the IAF as if the present regime is doing such a stellar job. we have suffered setbacks on the corruption index, freedoms index, we stagnate on the environmental index, academic performance is in constant decline, jordanians are suffering form lower wages and crushing costs of living, jordanian society is more fragmented than ever with tribalism and provincialism eating away at our social fabric, with the regime leading the charge in fostering these divisions. our stature in the arab world is declining because of the regime’s dubious foreign policy. yet regime supporters attack the islamists as if the regime has such a wonderful job.
sami: and i am amazed at how people have the ability to judge and paint people with being pro-regime just because they read a post or two and think they’ve got the person down pat. i am highly critical of the regime and voice my criticisms constantly on the black iris. the fact that i am JUST AS critical of the IAF doesn’t mean i think the government is doing a fine and dandy job in comparison.
but now that you mention it…
Nas, I was about to send you an e-mail or call you to suggest developing an “election watch” features specific for bloggers, and you have made it happen before I even called you. I guess we should try to collect all blog posts about the elections in one domain that can be kept as a reference for the future. Moreover, this feature can be even continued as “Parliament watch” after the elections. This is a great opportunity to highlight the collective impact of bloggers since I am sure what will be published on blogs will be totally different than traditional media.
Batir: feel free to write a similar post and publish it on 7iber under “election watch”. we’ll make out a whole section for it.