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Elections in Jordan

Elections in Jordan are for the lower house, known as the Chamber of Deputies, of the bicameral parliament of Jordan, as well as for local elections. They take place within a political system where the King has extensive legislative and executive powers, retaining ultimate political control. The Prime Minister is selected by the King, the PM is then free to choose his own Cabinet from members of the lower house. The parliament has quotas for ethnic and religious minorities: three shared between Circassians and Chechens, nine for Christians, and nine for Bedouins. There are also 15 seats for women, including three of the nine assigned to Bedouins. Political parties in Jordan are weak due to suppression and systematic bias in the electoral system. A majority of parliamentarians are usually pro-monarchy independents, and the electoral system favours rural tribes and those of East Bank origin over urban areas that are primarily inhabited by those of Palestinian descent.

British influence caused elections to be held under block voting. In 1957 however martial law was declared and political parties were banned. This lasted until unrest in 1989 forced the government to lift martial law, leading to an election under block voting where opposition parties, primarily Islamists, won a majority in Parliament. In order to suppress Islamists in future elections, the electoral system was changed to a single non-transferable vote system, which became known as “one-man one-vote”, although political parties were legalised again. This system was maintained for two decades, with opposition parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) often boycotting elections due to it. The 2011–12 Jordanian protests that occurred as part of the Arab Spring led to calls for political reform. Some changes were introduced prior to the 2013 elections, including the addition of 27 seats elected through national proportional representation (PR), and the creation of an Independent Electoral Commission. The changes were however deemed insufficient by many opposition parties, and they continued their boycott. Large-scale reforms were put into place for the 2016 election, including a move to complete PR within electoral districts with candidates running in open lists. Opposition parties including the IAF have ended their boycott and together with their allies managed to win 16 seats out of 130 in the 2016 election, after they were expecting 20-30 seats.


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