Could These Elections Bring Change After All?

On Wednesday, Jordan will hold a general election that has been touted by the regime as a step on the process to reform. What is actually going to happen is uncertain, but there are several different possibilities. One possibility is that the election produces a government that is chosen after token consultations with MPs allied with the government, and nothing will really change. There is also another, more hopeful possibility, which is that the election could lead to reform even if stalling was actually the regime’s original intention.

There is only one thing that seems certain – Prime Minister Ensour will tender his resignation the day after the election, and Jordan will have another new PM. This is likely because Ensour became the target of the protesters anger following the fuel price increases, but he is likely to remain in office as a caretaker while consultations take place, to select a PM who would be approved by a vote of confidence in the Lower House, even if the next PM is not necessarily an MP. It’s not clear who the next PM will be, but King Abdullah said in a recent discussion paper that if there was no clear majority in parliament then there would be consultations will all the relevant parliamentary blocs, and that the new PM would be approved by a vote of confidence in the lower house.

This is potentially a key change – in the current parliament having the PM be chosen by a vote of confidence is not significant immediately due to the election boycotts by much of the opposition. However, boycotts might not necessarily take place in future elections, and having the PM be approved in this manner is something that would be politically very difficult for the regime to reverse without losing further credibility.

What is most uncertain about the election is the makeup of the next parliament. With Islamists and many reformists boycotting, many leftist parties see a chance for political gains. However,  in a recent article on Al-Arabiya, one analyst, Mohamed Abu Rumman said that leftist parties are unlikely to win more than two to three seats in the next parliament. Part of the reason for this is their fragmentation. There are three lists mentioned in the article, including the People’s List and the Ploughmen’s Successor’s List which are all competing against each other for votes.  What is even less clear is the performance of the other parties – including those such as the National Current Party, which is headed by former Speaker Abdul Hadi Al Majali and the United National List which is headed by his relative Ayman Al-Majali, who both have conservative reputations, and could constitute a loyalist bloc in the next parliament.

With the election only two days away, much is uncertain. Perhaps the most important events of this election will be what happens after it takes place.

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