Muslim Brotherhood Regains Foothold in Jordan’s Parliament

The Muslim Brotherhood won seats in Tuesday’s Jordanian parliamentary elections, a mostly symbolic victory that revives the movement’s presence in the country’s legislature for the first time in nearly a decade. Results of the of the vote were disclosed on Thursday.

The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, won eight seats and its political supporters took another seven, making for an alliance of 15 out of the 130 lawmakers in the lower house of Jordan’s parliament. But the alliance’s small numbers would limit its influence in shaping policy or opposing laws promoted by the government.

Governing powers would continue to reside largely with Pro-western monarch King Abdullah II. While usually drafted by the government, the country’s laws must be endorsed by both houses of Parliament.

“Still,” said Oraib al-Rantawi, director of the Al Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman, the Muslim Brotherhood “will create controversy and stimulate heated discussions.”

King Abdullah earlier this year dissolved parliament, swore in a new government and named former foreign minister Hani Mulki prime minister in a bid to bolster confidence in government among Jordanians. Despite those changes, voter apathy was apparent this week, with just 37% of the country’s 4 million eligible voters casting ballots.

The country is struggling with a range of domestic issues including stagnant economic growth and the cost of absorbing more than 650,000 United Nations-registered Syrian refugees into its population of roughly 8.1 million.

Unemployment for Jordanians under age 30, who comprise more than 70% of the country, has hit 30%, according to a 2015 report by the International Labor Organization. A lack of prospects for youth has led many to consider joining the Islamic State militant group and has aided in the proliferation of extremist ideologies, U.S. officials have said.

The Muslim Brotherhood had campaigned on a message of relative political moderation and fielded a slate of candidates that included Christians and women. “We are the only bloc in parliament who ran on a platform with a program, and we will forge alliances with others,” said Ali Abu al-Sukkar, Islamic Action Front’s deputy head.

Election laws this year were revised to stipulate parliamentary candidates would no longer be listed as unaffiliated individuals and instead would be required to appear on slates defined by political party, geography or a loosely defined political agenda.

Those changes were aimed at encouraging party politics, but people generally voted according to family and community ties. The composition of new parliament is dominated by tribal candidates and businessmen local to voting districts, in similar fashion to the previous assembly.

  • 23 September 2016
  • Visited: 6352
  • News ID: 3808
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