JORDAN's elections: 'It's the TRIBES, stupid!'


The election is over and the major two lessons for the day are "It is the "TRIBE" stupids," and the golden days of the IAF might be over. The Islamic Action Front (IAF); the political wing of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, which had 17 seats in the previous parliament lost 11 seats as only 8 out of the 22 IAF candidates succeeded to win a seat this time. The IAF was fielding 22 candidates, including one woman in the elections and was hoping to win most if not all of these seats. As expected, the IAF issued a statement blaming irregularities in the election and the government for its astounding defeat; however most observers believe that the election was fair and smooth this time.

The truth is that I have never been a big fan of the (IAF),and part of me is thrilled for its astounding defeat, but may be it is time now to rethink and renovate Jordan's electoral system. Currently, most of the seats in parliament come from constituencies in rural tribal areas, not from the cities where most Jordanians live, meaning that the tribal districts are over-represented. Most lawmakers elected in a rural constituency such as Ex-prime minister Rawabdeh with only 2,000 to 3,000 voters to win, while each member of parliament from the capital represents about 95,000.

One of the best option about renovating the system comes from the director of the Amman-based al-Quds Center for Political Studies Oraib al-Rantawi, who advocates a mixed system, combining district-based constituencies with party- or coalition-based proportional representation. These structural changes might be what we need to strengthen Jordan's political parties and help invigorate its civil life. At this last election, candidates did not bother to join political party or to come up with an agenda because if the tribe is your shortcut to the parliament, why the hell would anybody care.

On the bright side, good news came from Madaba yesterday, where former MP Falak Jamaani claimed victory after getting 3,301 votes to be the first woman to win a Lower House seat without resorting to the women’s quota since 1989. Good for her and us.