Municipal elections (which last took place in 2003) are coming up next year. In 2002 the municipal election law was changed to allow the government to appoint half the members while the other half was elected by the people. I believe this was (and continues to be) a temporary law, which at the time was greatly rejected and opposed by Islamists who saw it as a move backwards in democratic reform, which technically it was because it also allowed the government to appoint the mayors. The government’s side of the law was the objective of mending the broken and inefficient system of the municipalities.
Recently there has been a move to create a quota for women running at the municipal level, similar to the quote currently in place on the parliamentary level, which was established by HM King Abdullah II. Women groups are looking for a 15 to 20% quota.
If 2003 serves any example: at the time 46 women ran and only 5 won although the government appointed one woman in every municipality where the woman candidate lost in public elections. That came out to be 97 of the 99 municipalities. Note: 46 ran, 5 won, the government appointed 97.
So petitions are now making their rounds and will be presented to HRH Princess Basma who will then present them to the King.
I still have my reservations about the need for an imposed quota for women at the Municipal level. The king has made promises for decentralizing the municipalities, dividing the country into separate regions which are responsible for their governance on the local level. While I feel it is important for women to run, participate, and vote in any and all elections, I do not see the purpose in forcing them on municipalities. Women run, men run; people may or may not elect them. That is the consequence of democracy. Yes, the country is still traditional and the general populace may not want to see a woman in any political position of power. However there are no laws that say women cannot vote. In other words if 50 women run in the elections, the women of Jordan can go out and vote for them.
Note that in the “1995 municipal elections, 10 of the 15 women who ran for election won, including one as mayor.” [Jordan Times]
While we’re at it, the government should abolish the temporary law of appointing anyone at all in the first place.