Jordanian Islamists Might Boycott Elections And The Need For International Monitoring

As is typical of the Islamist Action Front, wherever there are elections, there are calls for boycotts from the group. And this year is obviously no different. In 2007, the IAF cautiously participated in the municipal elections held during the summer, and were so badly burned at the polls due to “irregularities” that they keenly sought to boycott the parliamentary elections, which were held less than 5 months later. Due to backroom dealings, and I assume a lot of assurances from up top, the IAF reluctantly fielded candidates for the elections and garnered a mere 6 seats in an election that was clearly far from being, let’s say, halal.

The IAF’s significant decline in parliamentary elections was obviously not the only negative outcome for the party, as the post-elections era for the group saw it spiral in to a series of infighting between the hawks and the doves that even saw party heavyweights like Zaki Bin Rshaid, depart from the stage. This infighting has lasted until fairly recently, and it seems the doves have emerged as the new leadership force within the party – or at least it looks like that from the offset. That said, the new calls for a boycott come as no surprise from a group that has lost all faith and trust in the government’s promises – a loss that perhaps is reflective of the wider Jordanian society to a large extent.

However, if there is one thing to take from the Islamists it’s this: perhaps it is time to heed their call for the state to call in NGOs and international monitors to observe the elections. Such a move would help secure a sense of legitimacy and significantly increase levels of confidence amongst voters. The people do not trust the government or any semi-government, local-based entity to take on this job for all the obvious reasons; and thus a need for an outsider might be relevant. Does it send the message that the state is untrustworthy? Well, the state already sent that message three years ago, so in essence, by taking such measures the state would actually be trying to confound those already-established low expectations.

Otherwise, if the 2010 elections are a repeat of 2007, then suffice to say, there will be no need to hold another election in 2014 (or sooner, should this next house be abruptly dissolved by the monarch) – as all faith and legitimacy will have been officially obliterated by the state.


Your Two Piasters: