Jordanian King Calls for Review of Country’s Election Laws
Addressing parliament at its opening session Sunday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II called for reviewing the country’s recently-amended electoral laws to promote “fair representation” and consensus within government. Jordan held its first parliamentary elections since the beginning of the Arab Spring last month, although the largest opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front, boycotted in protest of the law’s provisions disproportionately favoring rural districts over urban centers, where many of the Brotherhood’s supporters live. In his speech, the king said that “the elections were held under a new election law that was not ideal,” and added, “There is a need to make the necessary amendments.”
King Abdullah also cautioned the chamber’s deputies with the responsibility of forming a governing coalition and vowed to consult with parliament on the selection of a prime minister. “We will start as part of this new approach with consultations over the government’s formation with the Lower House and parliamentary blocs as they take shape, in order to reach consensus that leads to the designation of a prime minister,” he said.
Under the recently-amended election laws, Bedouin tribal leaders and independents – loyalists of the king - swept last month’s parliamentary elections, leaving members of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party doubting the king’s commitment to reform. Hamzeh Mansur, chief of the Islamic Action Front, said of the elections, “This parliament is like other past parliaments. It will not come up with anything new. And the idea of parliamentary government is still elusive,” adding that the king’s speech “needs to be translated into practical steps in reality, on the ground.” Islamists have said they will not join the government. ”The king knows that there are no genuine and effective parliamentary blocs in this parliament that represent the overwhelming majority of the people,” Mansur said.