Islamists reject upcoming poll
Jordan's Islamists will boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in what is a blow to the government's reformist credentials, Khetam Malkawi reports
Following the Jordanian Senate's approval of an amended elections law last week, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan announced they will not take part in the poll, objecting to the "one person, one vote" electoral system, saying it will limit their presence in the country's parliament.
A few days later, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, announced their boycott of the voting process. By boycotting, they mean they will not run for the elections or even cast ballots, they said.
In their statement, the Islamists said they would not reverse their decision unless the government withdraws the current law and comes up with a new law based on proportional representation.
The current law allocates only 27 seats out of 150 to the proportional list. The list is for political parties and is ostensibly meant to encourage them to take part in the elections.
Describing the law as "unconstitutional", IAF leader Hamza Mansour claimed that it "forges the will of Jordanian citizens".
However, for analysts, both the Islamists and the government will be blamed for hindering political reform in the kingdom.
"The Islamists' decision will embarrass the government because it shows that it did not succeed in coming up with a law that is satisfactory to all Jordanians," said Moussa Shteiwi, an analyst and head of the University of Jordan's Centre for Strategic Studies.
He added that the boycott would also embarrass the Islamists if the elections were "fair and successful". Shteiwi told Al-Ahram Weekly that the boycott decision did not come at the right time and "hinders political reform".
Fayez Al-Fayez, a columnist at Al-Rai newspaper, agrees with Shteiwi, noting that a "good elections law" should ensure the participation of different segments and political parties in the country. He also blamed the government of Fayez Tarawneh for not consulting with the Islamists before amending the law.
Although Al-Fayez stressed that the Islamists do not represent the majority of Jordanians, he noted that, "if the law excluded the participation of any segment or party, the political reform process will be incomplete."
With the Islamists' insistence that they will not reconsider their decision unless the government withdraws the law, analyst Mohamed Abu Rumman said that talks are underway among politicians and decision-makers to either amend the law or postpone the elections.
For some analysts, King Abdullah II has the key to end the current crisis between the government and the Islamists.
If the king refuses to endorse the law, this could end the current political deadlock, Jumanna Ghneimat, Al-Ghad daily editor-in-chief, said. She explained in an article that this would allow further amendments to the law in order to meet the demands of political parties and a large segment of society.
Abu Rumman agrees. However, the scenario he describes is different: the king could declare a state of emergency as allowed by Article 124 of the constitution, dissolve parliament, dismiss the government, and issue a new temporary law.
"This option, if implemented, would be widely welcomed by the public as it serves the reform process in the country," he said.
Although the IAF was the only political party to announce a boycott, other parties are negotiating on the issue and may follow suit.
Meanwhile, the Jordanian Arab Socialist Baath Party issued a statement this week denouncing the current law. The party said the law would not encourage political forces to take part in the polls.
"Under this law, the elections will not be interesting for any party and it would yield the same result as previous polls," the statement said.