Parliamentary Election Turnout: An Initial Reaction

The much-awaited parliamentary elections are over. The Independent Electoral Commission has estimated the turnout at 1.28 million voters, which is approximately 56 percent of Jordan’s approximately 2.3 million registered voters. The turnout of 56 percent was slightly higher than the 53 percent turnout in the most recent parliamentary elections in 2010.

Turnout has varied widely between regions, with the highest turnout reported in the bedouin districts, and the lowest turnout reported in Amman, Irbid, and Zarqa. These three governorates, which reported the lowest turnout are also the most underrepresented in the district seats in parliament, and this is likely not a coincidence. Amman has the largest ratio of residents to MPs in Jordan, with each MP representing 96,000 residents. Zarqa is the second most underrepresented governorate, with 85,000 residents per MP. The third most underrepresented governorate is Irbid, with 69,000 residents.

There is one aspect of the turnout that is worth looking into – within certain governorates the size of the individual districts can vary widely, and it should also be noted that many of the areas that have experienced protests are areas that are over represented in parliament. For example, Wasatiyeh, which witnessed the only fatality of a protester during the demonstrations following the fuel price increase, is located in the Ninth Irbid District. This district has one MP for 14,400 registered voters, compared to the Seventh District in Irbid which has one MP for 46,300 registered voters. It will be interesting to see if turnout is uniform across the Irbid governorate or if it is higher in the areas that have smaller ratios of MPs to voters.

As more results become available I will attempt to analyze their implications for events following the elections as the process of appointing a successor to Prime Minister Ensour begins.

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