Analysis: Jordan’s Newly-Proposed Electoral Law
Last week, the Jordanian government presented a proposal to amend current electoral laws to parliament. Reportedly, this is one of the few times that an election law is to be debated in parliament instead of being issued as a royal decree. The law is the last of a series of reforms undertaken by the Jordanian monarchy in an attempt to persuade the Jordanian people that upcoming elections will be transparent, fair, and free.
Daoud Kuttab writes in the Huffington Post that the law “falls short” of the demands of the public and “even the recommendations of the Royal commission.” The new law introduces a mixed voting system, but the law does not address the bias of the current law, which Kuttab says, favors local districts. Additionally, the new law institutes a quota system for women, making sure that every Jordanian district will at least have one female representative. Christians also have a greater representation. The Islamist opposition called the draft law a failure because it limits the number of seats allocated to political parties.
Curtis Ryan writes in Foreign Policy that while Jordanians have “continued to pursue reform rather than revolution,” the outcome of the hotly debated draft law will depend on how meaningful is the government’s commitment to reform. Ryan says that the latest electoral law is “one key piece in the overall puzzle.” He says that the bill has received fierce criticism, but awaits parliamentary debate. However, he rightly questions the ability of parliament to change the law. The current parliament came into office under the old election laws; laws that involved “virtual districts”. Thus, the body, discredited by some Jordanians says Ryan, may not be the best body to “make key decisions regarding the future of elections, parties, and governance in Jordan.”