Officials count ballots at a polling station
Officials count ballots at a polling station Reuters

Tribal leaders, pro-regime loyalists and independent businessmen are set to sweep Jordan's parliamentary election that was shunned by Islamists, preliminary results showed on Thursday.

"These are still preliminary results which will be examined and approved by the Independent Election Commission," the IEC said in a statement quoted by AFP.

"The results will become official once they are published in the official gazette, which is expected next week," added the statement.

Analysts said the new parliament will be dominated by loyalists who will resist pressure for 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 hike in fuel prices, there were unprecedented calls for the king to step down. King Abdullah has managed to weather the street protests, partially by curtailing his absolute powers.

Abdullah, whose throne is not thought to be under threat, had touted the election as a focal point for his reforms, which he said should pave the way for parliamentary government.

He said his reform plans include consulting MPs before naming a premier, who should in turn then consult with MPs before forming a cabinet.

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 in naming a prime minister.

The IEC announced a 56.6-percent turnout of the registered electorate of 2.3 million, while the Brotherhood disputed this figure, charging there had been widespread fraud and vote-buying.

Police on Thursday said tear gas was fired to disperse rioters in different parts of the kingdom who were protesting the election results.

"Vote buying and fake voter cards were very clear. We will prove that our boycott was the right decision," Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the Brotherhood, told AFP. The IEC insisted its figures were accurate.

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.

Before Wednesday’s vote, Jordanians said they were skeptical that a new parliament would bring about the desired reforms.

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