Loyalists the big winners in Jordan election

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 January, 2013, 3:04am


Tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen swept Jordan's parliamentary election that was shunned by Islamists, according to preliminary results released yesterday.

Analysts say the new parliament will now be dominated by loyalists who will resist pressure for real political reform.

The Arab Spring that began two years ago and toppled four regimes across the region also sparked regular protests in Jordan, where a combination of youths and Islamists have been demanding sweeping reforms.

Their protests have become increasingly vocal and, during deadly November rioting over a sharp rise in fuel prices, there were unprecedented calls for the king to step down.

King Abdullah, whose throne is not seriously thought to be under threat, had touted Wednesday's election as a focal point for his reforms, which he said should pave the way for parliamentary government. Among his reforms, he said he planned for the first time to consult MPs before naming a prime minister, who should in turn then consult MPs before forming a cabinet.

But the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the election, saying the monarch's measures fell far short of true democratic change and that he should not have any say at all in naming a prime minister.

The Independent Election Commission put the turnout at 56.6 per cent of the registered electorate of 2.3 million, but the Brotherhood disputed this figure, saying there had been widespread fraud and vote-buying.

Analysts see little chance of real reform.

"The king did not at all cede any of his powers to parliament, which, anyway, will be dominated by loyalists. So his orders will be implemented in the end," political analyst Hassan Abu Hanieh said. "It is unlikely that the new MPs will change anything. It is obvious that there are clear attempts to make the election look good. That's all."