Jordanians Call for Boycott of Upcoming Elections
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of downtown Amman on October 5 to call for a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections. The demonstration was the largest since weekly protests began in early 2011. Jordanian opposition groups sought to show that change can be implemented through the street rather than through the king’s legislature. In a speech to fellow demonstrators, Hammam Saeed of the Muslim Brotherhood shouted “We will not reverse our boycott of the elections,” while protesters chanted, “Abdullah, listen well: We want freedom, not your royal favors.”
On the eve of the demonstrations, King Abdullah II made the decision to dissolve the current parliament, a move he said would pave the way for a the coming elections. He has repeatedly criticized the Islamists in the last few months for their decision to boycott. ”As constitutional monarch, my mandate is to be the umbrella for all political groupings and all segments of our society, and as part of that responsibility, I am telling the Muslim Brotherhood that they are making a tremendous miscalculation. So I am telling the Muslim Brotherhood, you have a choice: to stay in the street or to help build the new democratic Jordan,” he said.The Brotherhood has called for changes that would remove the king’s power to select the prime minister as well as the members of the upper house of parliament, and that members of both houses of parliament be popularly elected. Those parliamentarians would then choose the prime minister, who in turn would create his own cabinet.
Corruption has played a big role in nearly all of Jordan’s protests. “It’s not that the king has to open up the political system entirely to the Islamists,” said David Schenker. “Modest reforms would help ease public fears, but at the same time [Abdullah] has to do something about the corruption in the kingdom. There is a great disparity between the rich and the poor in the kingdom. This is an issue that resonates throughout the kingdom, whether they are Palestinians, East Bankers or Jordanians,” he added.