Poor Turnout in Jordan Elections Reflects Limits of kingdom’s Democracy

JORDAN ended voting on Tuesday in elections that were set to keep parliament in the hands of tribal and pro-government factions and have been criticised by the Islamist and liberal opposition for failing to reflect their true level of support.

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Officials said turnout among the 4.64 million eligible to vote was 29.88%, the lowest participation rate in many years. The poll coincides with deep public discontent as Jordan grapples with an economic crisis, and unemployment and poverty aggravated by a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fear of coronavirus has impacted the level of participation,” Khaled Kalaldeh, chief commissioner of the state-run Independent Election Commission (IEC), told reporters. He said 1.38 million voters cast ballots.

Across the country, banners of around 1,700 candidates appealed to voters along mostly tribal and family loyalty lines.

Politicians had urged Jordanians to vote amid widespread apathy and calls for a boycott of what many see as an almost toothless assembly packed with government loyalists powerless to make change.

“Our society is tribal but we have to encourage people to vote. I appeal to them to head to ballot boxes to make change,” Faisal al

Fayez, a prominent politician and former premier and royal court chief, told state-owned al-Mamlaka television.

The government has maintained an electoral system that under-represents densely-populated cities that are Islamist and Palestinian strongholds.

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