Municipal Elections Women’s Quota: Revisited

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.


  • The reason for the quota is to show our patriarchal society that women really can do the job. Problem is that they get in there and show their equality to men by being just as irresponsible and worthless.

  • unfortuantely I agree with Fad,women who are elected in municipalities or parliament are not living up to the humangous role they should be performing.
    My biggest disapointment ever was Tujan Al Faisal.And to think that I did vote for her!

  • I think the following points are the ones that need to be taken into consideration when deciding how to do this:

    1- If let alone to run these kinds of elections freely, our society will not produce a good number of women representatives. Women in our societies don’t like to participate as much as they should be participating, and people usually don’t take women candidates as seriously as they deserve to be taken.

    2- The election laws can be written to fix this problem.

    3- Like you said, women shouldn’t be enforced on the municipality councils by a hard quota rule.

    I think, if we take the above three points in consideration, then we need to do something like this:

    a- There should be three categories of districts in regards to women representation: districts that don’t need a quota, districts that need a quota, districts that don’t want quotas.

    b- When holding the elections, if no women run, then the district is considered a district that doesn’t want a quota for women and therefore the council won’t contain women.

    c- If women run in a district and a number of them greater than or equal to the quota wins, then the district is considered a district that doesn’t need a quota, so no quota applies here naturally.

    d- If women run in a district and less than the quota wins, then the district is considered a district that needs a quota and the quota is filled by the remaining female candidates that didn’t win. If less than the quota ran, then the quota is reduced to the number of women who ran.

    Rule (d) can be modified so that when female candidates who didn’t win are added to the council to fill the quota, they do not replace the male candidates, but instead the number of members in the council is expanded by the number of women who are added. This way, if the quota is x number of women, then the x number of women in a council where the quota was applied won’t have as much influence as the case in which they made it without the need for the quota, because the overall number of the council members would be greater if the quota was applied, and therefore they [women] would constitute a lesser percentage of the council.

  • Well yeah but I think of them as two separate problems, solving one doesn’t necessarily eliminate the other.

    We can work on making sure that those who reach the municipality councils are of a higher caliber in leadership and hard work, but we might still be left with the problem of not enough female representation.

    My focus was on the latter problem. The first is a whole different discussion that is very big.

    Just trying to break our problems into pieces and solve sort them out one by one.

  • Hamzeh, I think once you get to the point where several women prove themselves in these local political arenas people will be urged to vote for them. It really has nothing to do with tradition because traditionally we havnt had many canidates but this is a new generation of people and a new breed of politics. There should be workshops to help women develop these skills, there should be funding for their campaigins, programs to increase awareness.

    no set of rules or laws will change anything

    remember this is jordan….if the goverment comes and tells the people they are making a bunch of rules to ensure women get their fair share then people will be more turned off and eventually never vote for women at all. we will have a system where women will simply be appointed because no one will vote for them.

    at least now they have a chance.

  • I was just pointing out that if we do indeed want to consciously put more women in council in the short term through legislation then that [what i suggested] in my opinion would be the best solution.

    But it’s also my turn now to remind you that this is Jordan :p, when they talk about raising awareness, workshops and programmes, the effort that ends up being put in that often turns out to be decimal. And I’ll remind you again that this is Jordan, and how seriously do we Jordanians take these programmes and governmental initiatives anyway? People simply don’t have faith anymore in them.

    So where does this leave us?

    I would rather go for the programmes and at the same time have a guarantee that some of the effort I put into them won’t get lost at the polls and that these well qualified candidates will make it into the councils if my population decides to simply say “yeah yeah whatever!”.

  • Hamzeh, lol well u might be right about the workshops, although I do believe that the masses can be re-educated instead of having something forced upon them which they will immeditly reject by default.

    I think none of our solutions will apply. I think sooner or later someone will come along and do a good job and restore faith in a broken system and that alone will be the sole reason people will start voting for women.

Your Two Piasters: