Daily Israel Report

Jordanians Skeptical Legislative Election Will Bring Change

Jordanians skeptical about the outcome of a January 23 election say they will not vote as they are fed up with failures of past parliaments.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/22/2013, 6:30 AM

A man looks at electoral posters for parliamentary candidates in Amman
A man looks at electoral posters for parliamentary candidates in Amman
Reuters

Jordanians skeptical about the outcome of a January 23 legislative election say they will not vote as they are fed up with the empty promises and failures of past parliaments, AFP reports.

Numerous demonstrations have taken place in Jordan since January 2011 to call for political and economic reforms and demand an end to corruption.

Jordan has weathered the  street protests, partially by curtailing the absolute powers of the king. The protests have been small and mild compared to mass uprisings elsewhere in the region.

"I don't think I'll vote. I'm tired of seeing and hearing the same slogans, promises and lies over and over again," Mohammad Qeisi, 43, told AFP as he sat outside his shop in the city of Zarqa, a traditional Islamist stronghold 14 miles northeast of Amman.

"The candidates never keep their promises after they win. They change their phone numbers and personalities, becoming unreachable," he added.

More than 2.27 million voters have registered to choose from around 1,500 candidates contesting for 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Jordan wants Wednesday's vote to be a focal point for reform, but some people are concerned that many candidates lack clear programs, despite banners on streets throughout the country with their smiling or serious faces and pledges to improve the lives of Jordanians.

"They are promising us all kinds of things just to win our votes. Every election, we hope something different will happen. But we get nothing," Yasmin Ghanem, 25, a government employee in Zarqa, told AFP.

"Favoritism, nepotism and tribalism control everything. I'm not sure about voting," said Ghanem.

The country’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups like the National Reform Front of former premier and intelligence chief Ahmad Obeidat have boycotted the election over what they have described as a "lack of political will to reform."

On Friday, 2,000 protesters including Islamists, youths and leftists held a sit-in in Amman, rejecting the election as "cosmetic."

"I cannot think of anyone who deserves my vote. It is not our first election. I don't see why we should expect change when we end up with the same MPs who've done nothing for us in the past," Hashem Hammad from Khreibet Suq in Amman's east told AFP.

"We need jobs and a real fight against corruption and poverty. Can the new parliament do this? I don't think so," the 27-year-old mechanic said.

King Abdullah recently urged his country's Islamist opposition to take part in upcoming elections, despite their dissatisfaction with reforms.

He made the appeal in a rare interview on Jordan TV in July, as part of his attempt to engage with the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The king has also indicated that being in power was never for the sake of control and brings “no gain” for his ruling Hashemite family.

He said his goal was to stimulate reform away from “negative” political power struggle, in reference to the mass protests led by the Muslim Brotherhood.