AMMAN, Jordan—Jordan is heading to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the country’s parliament following a reform in the election law that allows for proportional representation, a main demand from opposition parties.
The vote is seen as a major test for the country’s reforms introduced after the so-called Arab Spring. It is also a test for Islamist parties who are reentering the political scene after a long absence.
After boycotting the last two elections, in 2010 and 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood this year is running in the general election, mainly because it believes the new election law may give it the upper hand. The Islamic Action Front, considered the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has formed a coalition with its allies, dubbed the National Coalition for Reform.
Jordan has been relatively stable in an otherwise troubled neighbourhood with Syria sunk in an ongoing five-year civil war, and Iraq struggling in the war against the Islamic State and internal sectarian strife.
There is, however, a general lack of interest in the election among Jordanians. The last time the country had a general election, in 2013, only a quarter of eligible voters took part.
“I do not take part because the candidates do not have integrity and they don’t act on their promises or serve the nation’s interests. Many of them run for their own personal interests,” a Jordanian man in Amman told Rudaw's Hardi Mohammed.
Despite changes in the election law, which opposition parties claimed had favoured tribal and rural areas, some Jordanians still believe tribal affiliations is a driving factor in the country’s politics.
Aziz Obeidi, a candidate from the Obeid tribe, said politicians have the general population in mind, though makes sure he takes care of the interests of his tribe, too. “Serving the people, our homeland, our area and our tribe is our main duty. We definitely don’t forget about the plight of ordinary people.”
There are 15 quota seats for women out of 130 in the new parliament. But neither the new law nor the quota system have impressed women voters.
“We take part based on the recommendations from our tribes and relatives. But we personally do not believe in the election, because the parliament which should be serving the nation does not do that. For many years the parliament has been used for personal interests,” a woman voter told Rudaw.