What does the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador signify?

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh recently announced that Syrian Ambassador Bahjat Suleiman would be expelled from the country, and Syria retaliated by saying that Jordan’s charge d’affaires would be expelled in return. The decision to expel Ambassador Suleiman appeared to have been prompted partly by Suleiman’s call for Syrian citizens to vote in the upcoming Syrian Presidential election. However, there are two things about this situation that need to be taken into account. First, a spokeswoman for the Foreign ministry also indicated that there were other reasons for Suleiman’s expulsion, including allegations that Suleiman engaged in actions that were offensive not only to Jordan but to Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well. Second, despite the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador, some Syrians resident in Jordan did indeed participate in the Syrian Presidential election, which is to be held in Syria next week.

What does the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador signify when Jordan ended up allowing Syrians to participate in the election? It appears, more than anything else, to signify the difficult position that the continuing crisis in Syria has placed Jordan in.

First, the Syrian election is clearly a farce. The country has been ravaged by conflict for more than three years in which more than 100,000 Syrians have died and almost three million have been displaced from their homes. It is inconceivable that any country would be able to successfully hold an election under these circumstances, even if it had a strong record of democratic elections prior to the outbreak of the conflict, which Syria does not. Indeed, the Syrian election is to be held under rules that are almost guaranteed to assure a victory for President Bashar al-Assad. The decision by Jordanian authorities to allow Syrians resident in Jordan does not by any means signify that the Jordanian regime supports an effort by the Syrian regime to undertake what is essentially a show that it still has many supporters in Syria despite the conflict.

However, Jordan may have decided to allow Syrians to vote at the Syrian embassy for another reason, despite the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador. This reason has little to do with the opinions of Jordanian authorities about Bashar al-Assad, and much instead to do with both internal demographics in Jordan and the stresses that the conflict has placed on Jordan. According to UNHCR, there are almost 600,000 Syrians resident in Jordan, which potentially places significant stresses on Jordan demographically. The Jordanian regime will undoubtedly seek to have as many of these refugees as possible return to Syria after the conclusion to the conflict. Therefore, when refugees residing in Jordan seek to vote in the election, even if it only involves the limited number able to travel to Amman, they are signifying their connection to Syria as well as their desire to eventually return, even if participation in this election also signifies support for the Syrian regime. Jordan is not about to prevent refugees from signifiying their interest in a return to Syria at some point in the future, even if that point would come after the end of a conflict that is currently not forseeable. For this reason, the Jordanian regime likely decided to move forward with allowing Syrians to vote despite the decision to expel Ambassador Suleiman


How Jordan’s Loyalists Stayed in Charge

Jordan held an election last Wednesday that was hailed by the regime as an important step on the path to reform. Turnout reached 56 percent despite boycotts by much of the opposition, including the Islamic Action Front and many reformists. People voted in the hope that this election with a modified electoral law would bring change. I held many of the same hopes myself, but it is clear that despite everything, for now the loyalists remain firmly in charge. How did this happen?

Political power is still centralized among a small clique of insiders with ties to the regime. The new Chief of the Royal Court is former Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh, who was appointed as PM following the King’s dismissal of Awn Khasawneh. The new PM has not been announced yet, but it should be noted that the King has said he will consult with parliamentary blocs, and one of the largest blocs is the National Current Party, which is headed by former Speaker Abdul Hadi al-Majali, who a few years ago spoke against electoral reform, although he appears to have changed his position during the most recent election campaign. Still, if someone was on record opposing even the modest electoral reforms during the most recent parliament, then it is unlikely that they will be supportive of further reform in the future, except perhaps to the degree that they consider it to be a necessity.

How did this situation come about? Former Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher points out that even after the reform passed last year, the current electoral law remains inadequate and means parliament cannot exercise oversight of the executive branch. He addresses three issues in his article that are crucial to the reform process: (1) electoral reform, including a gradual increase in the number of seats allocated to party lists; (2) prosecuting and preventing corruption; and (3) economic reform, addressing the current economic crisis as well as unemployment, inequality, and Jordan’s continued dependence on outside aid.

Right now, it seems as though many loyalists have examined the results exactly the wrong way. 56 percent of registered voters did not turn out to vote because they wanted the way that Jordan is governed to remain the same. They did so, I think, in the hope that this time would be the start on the process of change. However, with many of those who opposed even modest reforms in a strong position, it is easy to be skeptical of whether the new parliament will produce meaningful reforms.

Jordan’s Parliamentary Election Results at a Glance

NOTE: This post is a work in progress, check back for updates as more information about the election and the candidates becomes available.

The 2013 Jordanian Parliamentary Election was held on January 23, 2013. Jordanian voters elected 150 MPs to the House of Deputies, which is the Lower House of the Jordanian Parliament. The Senate, the Upper House, consists of 60 members who are appointed by the King.


The preliminary results of the election are in. Out of 150 seats, 123 of them were won by loyalists and 37 were won by Islamists and other critics of the regime.

The 2013 Parliamentary Election was held under an electoral law passed in 2012 which increased the number of seats from 120 to 150. In this election, Jordanians cast two votes – one for the candidate in their district and one for a party list. The seats are distributed as follows:

  • 27 seats are elected nationwide via proportional representation from party lists.
  • 108 of the seats are elected from district seats, including 9 district seats reserved for Christian candidates, and 3 for Circassian and Chechen candidates. There are also 9 seats reserved for bedouin candidates.
  • 15 seats are reserved for women under a quota system

For a more in-depth description of the electoral procedures that were used in the most recent election, check out my previous post that discusses the topic entitled “Jordan’s 2013 Parliamentary Elections at a Glance.

The results of the 2013 Parliamentary Elections will be updated below as they become available.

Party List Seats (27 seats) – UPDATED

There are a total of 27 seats that are allocated to party lists. As mentioned above, Jordanians will cast two votes, one of which is for the party list seats and the other is for the district seats. There are a total of 61 party lists competing for these seats and the lists each have between nine and twenty-seven candidates.

The following is a summary of the results of the party list seats:

Islamic Centrist – 3 seats – 198,698 votes (9.719%)
  1. Mohammad al-Hajj
  2. Zakariyah Al Shaikh
  3. Mustafa Al Amawi)
Stronger Jordan – 2 seats – 98,898 (8.453%)
  1. Rula al-Huroub
  2. Munir Zawaydeh
Nation – 2 seats – 94,301 (8.061%)
  1. Atef al-Tarawneh
  2. Khamis Attiyeh
National Union – 2 seats – 65,720 (5.618%)
  1. Mohammad al-Khushman
  2. Abdul Majid al-Aqtash
National Current – 1 seat – 49,012 (4.189%)
  1. Abdul Hadi al-Majali
Salvation – 1 seat – 37,005 (3.163%)
  1. Ahmed Rqeibat
Labor and Trade – 1 seat – 36,459 (3.116%)
  1. Mazen al-Jawazneh
Cooperation – 1 seat – 35,206 (3.009%)
  1. Mejhim al-Sqour
Dignity – 1 seat – 32,681 (2.852%)
  1. Ali al-Azazmeh
United Front – 1 seat – 32,681 (2.793%)
  1. Amjad al-Majali
National Unity – 1 seat – 31,265 (2.672%)
  1. Mohammad al-Zboun
Al-Binaa’ – 1 seat – 31,100 (2.658%)
  1. Hassan Obeidat
The People – 1 seat – 28,874 (2.468%)
  1. Mustafa Shneikat
Ahl al-Himma – 1 seat – 23,821 (2.036%)
  1. Ra’ed al-Khalayieh
Free Voice – 1 seat – 23,077 (1.973%)
  1. Faisal al-A’war
Voice of the Nation – 1 seat – 20,276 (1.733%)
  1. Haitham Abbadi
National Action – 1 seat – 19,788 (1.691%)
  1. Abdul Hadi Maharmeh
Noble Jerusalem – 1 seat – 17,823 (1.523%)
  1. Mohammad Jabil al-Omar
Al-Bayyan – 1 seat – 16,650 (1.423%)
  1. Hamzeh Khaza’aleh
Dawn – 1 seat – 16,180 (1.383%)
  1. Sa’ad al-Balawi
National Accord Youth Bloc – 1 seat – 14,658 (1.253%)
  1. Mu’taz Abu Rumman
Citizenship – 1 seat – 14,658 (1.253%)
  1. Hazem Qashou

District Seats (108 seats)

These seats are elected from 45 electoral districts, which elect either a single MP or multiple MPs. Districts can vary widely in terms of the number of MPs they elect to parliament, and in terms of their population.

A total of 12 district seats are reserved for minority candidates (9 for Christians, 3 for Circassian/Chechen candidates), and the candidates elected to these seats will be noted in parentheses next to the result. The 9 seats reserved for bedouin candidates are in separate districts, which will be listed below in a section entitled “Bedouin Districts.”

Amman (Capital, Central Jordan)

The Amman governorate elects 25 MPs from seven districts. This includes 22 Muslim MPs, 2 Circassian/Chechen MPs, and 1 Christian MP. The district seats reserved for minority candidates will be noted below in parentheses. The Amman governorate has a total population of approximately 2.4 million in the 2011 census, meaning each MP represents 96,000 residents.


  1. Khalil Atiyeh – 19,399
  2. Mohammad Barayseh – 6,981
  3. Hayel Daaja – 3,305
  4. Ahmad Jaloudi – 3,080
  5. Talal Sharif – 2,814


  1. Raed Kouz – 6,347
  2. Mohammad Khalil Dawalmeh – 5,548
  3. Yihya Saud – 5,855
  4. Mohammad Mahsieri – 5,162
  5. Yousef Qorneh – 4,608


  1. Amjad Maslamani – 4,124
  2. Amer Bashir – 3,993
  3. Abdul Rahim Biqaai – 3,918
  4. Ahmed Safadi – 3,352
  5. Atef Qaawar – 3,304 (Christian seat)


  1. Ahmad Hmeisat – 8,942
  2. Kheirallah Abu Saalik – 7,043
  3. Assaf Shawabkah – 5,336


  1. Mariam Lozi – 3,631
  2. Mousa Abu Sweilem – 3,610
  3. Tamer Bino – 2,220 (Circassian/Chechen)


  1. Nasser Qaisi – 5,678
  2. Abdul Jalil Zyoud – 5,390
  3. Kheir Eddin Hakouz – 3,296


  1. Adnan Ajarmeh – 5,359

Balqaa (Central)


  1. Khaled Hiari – 7,251
  2. Nidal Hiari – 4,170
  3. Mohammad Abbadi – 4,001
  4. Mahmoud Kharabsheh – 3,951
  5. Bassam Manasir – 3,873
  6. Dirar Daoud – 4,228 (Christian seat)
  7. Jamal Gammoh – 3,494 (Christian seat)


  1. Shadi Odwan – 4,868


  1. Mohammad Alaqmeh – 5,609


  1.  Mustafa Yaghi – 7,691

Balqaa elects 10 MPs from four districts, including 8 Muslim MPs and 2 Christian MPs. The governorate has a total population of approximately 419,000, meaning that each MP represents about 41,900 residents.

Madaba (Central)


  1. Adnan Abu Rukbeh – 5,436
  2. Zaid Shawabkah – 4,375
  3. Mustafa Hamarneh – 1,857 (Christian seat)


  1. Ali Sneid (5,630)

Madaba elects 4 MPs from two electoral districts, including 3 Muslim seats and 1 Christian seat. The governorate has a population of approximately 156,000 residents, with each MP representing approximately 39,000 residents.

Zarqa (Central)


  1. Samir Orabi – 4,506
  2. Karim Awadat – 3,833
  3. Yousef Abu Huweidi – 3,799
  4. Mirza Bollad – by default (Circassian/Chechen)
  5. Tareq Khouri – 4,718 (Christian)


  1. Mohammad Yousef Dawaimeh – 5,557
  2. Ali Khalaileh – 4,577
  3. Mousa Khalaileh – 3,115


  1. Wasfi Zyoud – 6,555


  1. Mohammad Thahrawi – 6,286
  2. Qusai Dmeisi – 5,088

Zarqa elects 11 MPs from four districts, including 9 Muslim MPs, 1 Christian MP, and 1 Circassian/Chechen MP. The governorate has a total population of approximately 931,000, meaning that each MP represents approximately 85,000 residents.

Aljoun (North)


  1. Kamal Zghoul – 7,452
  2. Ali Bani Ata – 6,430
  3. Rida Haddad – 1,500 (Christian seat)


  1. Mohammad Freihat – 4,908

Aljoun elects 4 MPs from two electoral districts, including 3 Muslim seats and 1 Christian seat. The governorate has a total population of 144,000 residents, with each MP representing approximately 36,000 residents.

Irbid (North)- UPDATED

Irbid elects 17 MPs from nine electoral districts, including 16 Muslim MPs and one Christian MP. The governorate has a total population of approximately 1.1 million, with each MP representing approximately 69,000 residents.

Irbid elects a total of 17 MPs, including 16 Muslim MPs and one Christian MP. The governorate has a total of 487,129 registered voters, and each MP represents on average 28,654 voters. A total of 135 candidates, including 10 women, competed in this election for these seats.

Of the 17 MPs elected, 5 were incumbent MPs who served in the previous parliament elected in 2010, and 3 more were candidates who did well in the 2010 elections but were not elected.

1st DISTRICT (qasba region)

  1. Samir Oweis (8,392 votes)
  2. Salim Batayneh (6,552)
  3. Mohammad Radaideh (6,112) – Incumbent
  4. Qassim Bani Hani (6,041)
  5. Abdul Munim Odat (4,497)

This district elects five MPs. There are a total of 160,314 registered voters, and a ratio of 32,062 voters per MP. A total of 25 candidates competed in this district in the January 23rd parliamentary election.

One of the five MPs elected was elected from the same district during the previous parliament elected in 2010. In that election, MP Mohammad Radaideh received 4,908 votes in the 2nd virtual district, compared to 6,112 in this election. The “virtual districts” required voters to choose one of several different contests held in the same district regardless of their location, and were abolished with the 2012 electoral reform.

2nd District (Bani Abeid)

  1. Mohammad Khasawneh (4,049)
  2. Husni Sheyab (3,958) – Incumbent
  3. Jamil Nimri (2,799) (Christian seat) – Incumbent

This district elects 3 MPs – 2 Muslim, 1 Christian. 49,787 registered voters (16,595 voters per MP). 15 candidates, including 5 Christian candidates competing for the Christian quota seat.

Incumbent MP Husni Sheyab was reelected with 3,958 votes, compared to the 6,167 votes he received in the 2nd virtual district in 2010. Incumbent Christian MP Jalil Nimri, who is also a prominent journalist, was also reelected, receiving 2,799 votes compared to 2,215 votes in 2010.

3rd District (Northern Mazar)

  1. Mohammad Sharman (3,407)

Elects 1 MP. 24,033 registered voters (24,033 voters per MP). 10 candidates, including 2 women.

4th District (Ramtha)

  1. Abdul Karim Darabseh (12,468)
  2. Fawaz Zu’bi (9,763) – Incumbent

Elects 2 MPs. 48,656 registered voters (24,328 voters per MP). 5 candidates.

Incumbent MP Fawaz Zu’bi was reelected with a vote total comparable to the number of votes he received in 2010 (9,763 this time compared to 9,782 in 2010 where he contested the 1st virtual district).

5th District (Bani Kenanah)

  1. Abdullah Obeidat (5,042)
  2. Bassel Malkawi (3,978)

Elects 2 MPs. 44,186 registered voters (22,093 voters per MP). 12 candidates, including 1 woman.

Abdullah Obeidat was elected after unsuccessfully contesting the same district in 2010. In that election he received 3,084 votes in the 2nd virtual district, in which he came in second to Yahya Obeidat.

6th District (Koura)

  1. Yassin Bani Yassin (8,111)

Elects 1 MP. 44,988 registered voters (44,988 voters per MP). 8 candidates, including 1 woman.

Yassin Bani Yassin was elected MP, receiving 8,111 votes, a strong showing compared to 2010 when he contested the same seat and received 3,440 votes, coming in second.

7th District (Northern jordan valley)

  1. Khaled Bakkar (11,624)

Elects 1 MP. 48,701 registered voters (48,701 voters per MP). 6 candidates, including 1 woman.

Khaled Bakkar was elected MP after receiving 11,624 votes, a total that is comparable to his showing in 2010 when he received 11,747 votes, but came in second.

8th District (Taybeh)

  1. Bassel Alawneh (6,163)

Elects 1 MP. 17,744 registered voters (17,744 voters per MP). 5 candidates.

9th District (Wasatiyeh)

  1. Mahmoud Mheidat (3,905)

Elects 1 MP. 13,251 registered voters (13,251 voters per MP). 6 candidates, including 1 woman.

Jerash (North) – UPDATED

1st DISTRICT (all of jerash)

  1. Abdul Karim Darabseh – 5,324 (10.22%)
  2. Mefleh Ruheimi – 4,571 (8.78%) – Incumbent
  3. Mohammed Hdeib – 4,189 (8.04%)
  4. Wafaa Bani Mustafa – 3,989 (7.66%) – Incumbent (Jerash women’s quota seat winner in 2010)

Turnout: 52,081 (72.07%) – Preliminary figure

Jerash elects 4 MPs from a single electoral district, all of which are Muslim seats. The governorate has a total of 188,000 residents, and 72,265 registered voters, meaning that each MP represents approximately 47,000 residents, or about 18,066 voters. A total of 24 candidates competed in Jerash governorate, including 3 women.

The strong performance of independent Islamist Wafaa Bani Mustafa is noteworthy, as she increased her support dramatically. In 2010, she received 1,580 votes and was elected to the women’s quota seat for Jerash, while this election she received 3,989 votes (7.66% overall) and was elected outright. This means Jerash governorate will be represented by two women – Wafaa Bani Mustafa as well as women’s quota seat winner Najah Azzah, who received 1,802 votes (3.46% overall).

The leading vote-getter was Abdullah Khawaldeh, who received 5,324 votes (10.22% overall). In 2010, he finished second in the third virtual district to Mefleh Ruheimi (an incumbent MP who was reelected in 2nd place). In this election, both were elected.

Mafraq (North)

1ST DISTRICT (All of mafraq except portion within northern bedouin district)

  1. Abdul Karim Dughmi – 6,192
  2. Melfeh Khazalleh – 4,092
  3. Nayef Khazalleh – 3,834
  4. Mohammad Shdeifat – 3,580

Mafraq elects 4 MPs from one electoral district, all of which are Muslim seats. The governorate has a population of approximately 179,000, meaning each MP represents approximately 45,000 residents.

It should be noted that this figure does not include the 3 Bedouin seats in the Northern Bedouin District, which are elected separately, although the district is located within this governorate. If these are included then the total number of seats from this governorate would increase to 7, but to avoid double counting these seats will be outlined below.

Aqaba (South) – UPDATED

1ST DISTRICT (ALL OF aqaba except the portion within southern bedouin district)

  1. Mohammad al-Badri – 3,411
  2. Mohammad Riyati – 2,531

Aqaba elects 2 MPs from a single electoral district, both of which are Muslim seats. The Aqaba governorate has a population of approximately 136,000, but not all of the governorate is located within the electoral district, as part of it is within the Southern Badia (Bedouin) District. The portion that is within the Aqaba electoral district has 31,641 registered voters, with each MP representing 15,731 voters. A total of 21 candidates competed in Aqaba, including 5 women.

In this election, the top vote-getter was Mohammad al-Badri, while the second MP elected was Mohammad Riyati, who came in second place in the second virtual district in 2010. In that election, he received 2,729 votes, while in this election his total was actually lower, as he received 2,531, but this was sufficient for him to be elected this time.

Karak (South)


  1. Mwafaq Dmour – 3,475
  2. Taha Shorafa – 2,809
  3. Faris Halaseh – 1,365 (Christian seat)


  1. Eteiwi Majali – 3,034
  2. Raed Hijazin – 1,137 (Christian seat)


  1. Bassam Btoush – 3,622
  2. Madallah Tarawneh – 3,215


  1. Mahmoud Hweimi – 4,795


  1. Mustafa Rawashdeh – 2,280


  1. Nayef Leimoun – 2,897

Karak elects 10 MPs from six districts, including 8 Muslim MPs and 2 Christian MPs. The governorate has a total population of approximately 244,000, meaning each MP represents approximately 24,400 residents.

Maan (South)


  1. Amjad al-Khattab – 3,563
  2. Awad Kreishan – 2,528


  1. Bader Toura – 1,648


  1. Adnan Farajat – 3,948

Maan elects 4 MPs from three districts, all of which are Muslim seats. The governorate has a total population of approximately 119,000, meaning each MP represents approximately 30,000 residents.

Tafila (South)


  1. Ibrahim Shahahdeh – 3,005
  2. Ibrahim Eteiwi – 2,562
  3. Mohammad Qatatsheh – 2,196


  1. Mohammad Saudi – 2,229

Tafila elects 4 MPs from two electoral districts, all of which are Muslim seats. The governorate has a population of approximately 88,000, with each MP representing approximatley 22,000 residents.

Bedouin Seats

There are a total of 9 seats reserved for Bedouin, which are divided into three Bedouin constituencies: Northern Bedouin, Central Bedouin, and Southern Bedouin. Each of these constituencies elects 3 MPs. The Northern Bedouin District is located within Mafraq governorate. The Central Bedouin district consists of parts of Amman governorate in the fourth electoral district. The Southern Bedouin District consists of parts of Aqaba and Maan governorates.

It is important to note that Bedouin districts are different from those reserved for the Christian or Circassian minorities, as only members of families assigned to each bedouin district by the electoral law are allowed to vote there (but cannot vote or run for office anywhere else in Jordan).

northern badia district (bedouin)

  1. Habes Shabeeb – 8,237 (18.53%) – Incumbent
  2. Saad Hayel Srour – 6,554 (14.74%)
  3. Deifallah Bani Khaled – 6,111 (13.74%)

Turnout: 44,460 (75.53%) – Preliminary figure

The Northern Badia (Bedouin) District elects 3 MPs. The district has a total of 58,867 registered voters, with each MP representing a total of 19,622 voters. A total of 17 candidates competed in the Northern Badia District, including 6 women.


  1. Sleiman Zaben – 5,371 (17.04%)
  2. Thamer Fayez – 4,419 (14.02%)
  3. Hadithah Khreisha – 4,119 (13.07%) – Incumbent

Turnout: 31,516 (75.42%) – Preliminary figure

The Central Badia (Bedouin) District elects 3 MPs. The district has a total of 41,790 registered voters, with each MP representing a total of 13,930 voters. A total of 16 candidates competed in the Northern Badia District, including 6 women.

Incumbent MP Hadithah Kkreisha was reelected, winning third place. First place was earned by Sleiman Zaben, who came in second place in the 1st virtual district in the 2010 parliamentary elections.


  1. Mohammad Hajaya – 4,065
  2. Saad Zawaideh – 3,101
  3. Deifallah Saeedin – 2,988

The Southern Badia (Bedouin) District elects 3 MPs.

Women’s Quota Seats (15 seats, including 3 reserved for Bedouin Women)

This election there are a total of 15 seats reserved for female candidates, including 3 that are reserved for Bedouin women. Women running for parliament do not campaign for these seats specifically, as they instead run in their districts. Each of the 12 governorates as well as each of the 3 bedouin districts is assigned one female quota seat. In each governorate, the female candidate who receives the highest proportion of the vote in their district without being elected outright is awarded the female quota seat for that governorate.

The women’s quota candidates elected from each of the twelve governorates and the three bedouin districts are listed below:


  • Amman: Na’ayim Ajarmeh 1,525 (8.53%)
  • Irbid – Fatimah Abu Attah 4,102 (13.15%)
  • Balqaa – Amneh Gharaghir 2,446 (11.73%)
  • Karak – Hamdiyyah Qwaider Hamaydeh 1,187 (17.33%)
  • Ma’an – Faten Khleifat 1,357 (14.30%)
  • Mafraq – Reem Abu Dalbouh 2,622
  • Tafileh – Insaaf Khawaldeh 1,056 (12.28%)
  • Zarqa – Rudaynah al-Atti 3,123 (8.10%)
  • Madaba – Falak Jama’ani 2,999 (20.06%)
  • Jerash – Najah al-Azzeh 1,802 (3.46%)
  • Ajloun – Khuloud Khatatbeh 1,241 (9.39%)
  • Aqaba – Tamam Riyati 1,873

Bedouin Districts

  • Northern Badia (Bedouin Area) – Myassar Sardiyyah 2,223 (5.0%)
  • Central Badia – Hind al-Fayez 873 (2.77%)
  • Southern Badia – Shaha Abu Shusheh 1,852 (3.71%)

Jordan Needs Real Reform, Not a Royal Paper

Jordan Times has announced that there will be a royal discussion paper released soon about the democratization process in Jordan. According to the article:

As Jordan moves closer to parliamentary elections, His Majesty King Abdullah will release a series of discussion papers outlining his vision on the Kingdom’s comprehensive reform process, a Royal Court statement said on Wednesday.

The first paper is to appear soon, focusing on His Majesty’s vision on the nation’s course towards democratisation.

In other words, a Royal Paper will be released outlining King Abdullah’s “vision on the nation’s course towards democratization” shortly before an election that much of the opposition has chosen to boycott due to an electoral law that did not adequately reform the process for electing MPs. Furthermore, any future reforms (if they could indeed be called that) would be made by the parliament elected in this election, which is likely to consist largely of government loyalists and members of nationalist and leftist parties that have – for whatever reason – chosen to participate in the hopes of winning a few seats.

As I have mentioned before, MPs who are elected from districts with smaller populations are unlikely to support electoral reform that would equalize the size of the districts – and remember, under the electoral law, 123 out of 150 MPs will be chosen from districts (including 15 district seats that are reserved for women). Furthermore, for the 27 list seats, there are a total of 61 parties, and with the much of the opposition boycotting it is easy to see these seats being distributed widely among smaller parties, many of which do not have coherent political ideologies or true membership bases. Also, there are issues with the way that party lists are structured, as it is a closed list system with voters required to choose the from the lists, many of which have been set up through bargaining, rather than being able to select candidates on the list, which only benefits those who made backroom deals to secure a high position on their party’s list. Such a parliament is not going to produce real reform.

For the regime to be even talking about putting out a paper on democratization at this stage shows their true intent – by focusing on the new parliament, which is elected in an unfair way they will be able to stall on implementing real reform for a bit longer.

Kuwait: Election Winners by Constituency

The following are the winners of the December 2012 Kuwaiti National Assembly election in each of Kuwait’s five constituencies. As has been mentioned before, the election was boycotted by the opposition, so all of the candidates elected were pro-regime. Overall turnout (albiet, according to the official statistics) was 38.5 percent.

Analyzing these election winners reveals the impact of the one-vote decree – it drastically reduces the number of votes that a candidate needs to be elected, and it makes manipulation of the election results more likely when the threshold to be elected is so low. The highest percentage that a winning candidate received was 14 percent, and the lowest was 2 percent, in the 5th constituency where Nasser Abdullah Al-Shammari was elected as an MP with only 502 votes, or 2 percent of the total number of votes cast.

1st Constituency (turnout 42,868):

  1. Kamel Al-Awadhi – 5757 votes (13%)
  2. Adnan Abdulsamad – 4983 (11%)
  3. Faisal Al-Duwarsan – 4851 (11%)
  4. Yusuf Zalzala – 3529 (8%)
  5. Maasouma Al-Mubarak – 3204 (7%)
  6. Abdulhameed Dashti – 2725 (6%)
  7. Saleh Ashour – 2241 (5%)
  8. Nawwaf Al-Fuzai – 2090 (4%)
  9. Khaled Al-Shatti – 1901 (4%)
  10. Hussein Al-Qallaf – 1656 (3%)

2nd Constituency (turnout 26,167):

  1. Ali Al-Rashed – 3044 (11%)
  2. Adnan Al-Mutawwa’ – 2598 (9%)
  3. Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran – 2317 (8%)
  4. Bader Al-Bathali – 1919 (7%)
  5. Adel Al-Kharafi – 1834 (7%)
  6. Ahmed Lari – 1634 (6%)
  7. Khalaf Dmaitheer Al-Enezi – 1552 (5%)
  8. Khalil Al-Saleh – 1475 (5%)
  9. Hamad Saif Al-Harshani – 1043 (3%)
  10. Saleh Al-Ateeqi – 909 (3%)

3rd Constituency (turnout 38,205):

  1. Ali Al-Omari – 5714 (14%)
  2. Khalil Abdullah Ali Abdullah – 3780 (9%)
  3. Ahmed Al-Mulaifi – 2979 – (7%)
  4. Safa’ Al-Hasheem – 2632 – (6%)
  5. Saadoun Hamad Al-Otaibi – 2147 – (5%)
  6. Hesham Al-Baghli – 1980 – (5%)
  7. Abdullah Al-Mayouf – 1944 – (5%)
  8. Nabil Al-Fadhl – 1860 – (4%)
  9. Yaaqoub Al-Sane’ – 1392 – (3%)
  10. Mohammad Al-Jabri – 1244 – (3%)

4th Constituency (turnout 31,640):

  1. Askar Al-Enezi – 2517 – (8%)
  2. Saad Khanfour Al-Rashidi – 2474 – (8%)
  3. Saud Nashmi Al-Huraiji – 2125 – (6%)
  4. Mubarak Al-Khurainej – 1768 – (5%)
  5. Thikra Al-Rashidi – 1283 – (4%)
  6. Khaled Al-Shulaimi – 1251 – (3%)
  7. Mohammad Al-Barrak – 1214 - (3%)
  8. Mishari Al-Husseini – 1126 - (3%)
  9. Mubarak Al-Orf – 1120 - (3%)
  10. Mubarak Saleh Al-Nejada – 1090 - (3%)

5th Constituency (turnout 24,421):

  1. Faisal Al-Kandari – 3534 – (14%)
  2. Abdullah Al-Tamimi – 2852 – (11%)
  3. Nasser Al-Marri – 1634 – (6%)
  4. Hanin Hussein Shams – 1612 – (6%)
  5. Essam Al-Dabboos – 1299 – (5%)
  6. Khaled Adwa Al-Ajmi – 869 - (3%)
  7. Taher Al-Failakawi – 846 - (3%)
  8. Hammad Al-Dosari – 839 - (3%)
  9. Saad Al-Boos – 792 - (3%)
  10. Nasser Abdullah Al-Shammari – 502 – (2%)

It is important to note, as mentioned in the previous post, that the 1st constituency was least affected by the boycott while the 4th and 5th constituencies, with large tribal populations were the most affected by it. A major reason why the 1st constituency was not affected by the boycott was due to the large Shi’ite population there. As mentioned before, Shi’ites won a record number of seats in this election.

Kuwait Votes in 5th Election in 6 Years

Kuwaitis voted on Saturday for the fifth time in six years, in a vote boycotted by the opposition, which held a rally on Friday attended by factions from across the political spectrum, including youth movements, Islamists, and liberals. The opposition boycotted the election due to the Emir’s decree reducing the number of votes that each voter can cast from four to one, so the election was as much a referendum on the regime as an election campaign, because by participating, voters, and the candidates they supported were acquiescing (at least tacitly) in the Emir’s decree.

The results of this election should thus be taken with the understanding that they contests between regime supporters. However, it is important to analyze them to determine what they mean for the future of Kuwaiti politics, what it means for the nature of the regime’s backers, and what it reveals about the opposition. In particular with regards to the areas where the boycott was most widespread.

Electoral Laws and Procedure

Kuwait has approximately 1.2 million citizens, but only 422,000 are eligible to vote. The minimum age to vote is 21. Naturalized citizens must wait 20 years before being able to vote. Members of the armed forces are not permitted to vote. In this election, women were projected to make up around 54 percent of the overall electorate.

The National Assembly has a total of 50 members. The country is divided into five constituencies, with each constituency electing ten members to the National Assembly. In 2006, a new electoral law was passed that changed the format of Kuwait’s constituencies and voting rules. This law reduced the number of constituencies from 25 (2 members each) to 5 (10 members each) and increased the number of votes that each citizen could cast from one to four.

The government attempted to challenge the legitimacy of this electoral law this year, but the constitutional court rejected the challenge, despite previously dissolving the National Assembly elected in February 2012 on a technicality and reinstating the previous one. Subsequently, the Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah triggered the current political crisis by issuing a decree reducing the number of votes that each citizen was allowed to cast from four to one, and the opposition boycotted the election in protest.


There were a total of 308 candidates in five constituencies, competing for a total of 50 seats. The opposition claims that the election had a turnout of 26.7 percent, which would make it the lowest turnout election of any ever held in Kuwait. Official figures from the Ministry of Information give the turnout as 162,601 out of approximately 422,000 eligible voters, which would make the turnout about 38.5 percent.

According to Kuwait Times, the boycott was most effective in the Fourth and Fifth constituencies which have large tribal populations, and least effective in the First constituency, which has a significant Shi’ite population. The number of Shi’ite MPs increased to 15, from 7 in the February 2012 elections and 9 in the 2009 elections. Prominent Shi’ite MPs include Adnan Abdulsamad, Faisal Al-Duwaisan, Saleh Ashour, Hussein Al-Qallaf and Abdulhameed Dashti. Other successful candidates included Ali Al-Rashed, Ali Al-Omair, Ahmad Al-Mulaifi, and Askar Al-Enezi.

Sunni Islamists won 4 seats (down from 23), while tribal candidates won 19 seats, down from 25. It is important to note that three major tribes – the Awazem, Mutair, and Ajman, which altogether have approximately 400,000 members boycotted the election and did not elect a single MP. Four women were elected, as compared to zero in the election in February 2012.

Of the 24 candidates who were initially barred from running in the elections by the Interior Ministry and then subsequently reinstated by the courts, 9 were elected to the new parliament: Saleh Ashour (1st constituency), Yousef Al-Zalzaleh (1st), Saadoun Hamad Al-Otiabi (5th), Askar Al-Enezi (4th), Mubarak Al-Khurainej (4th), Khaled Adwa Al-Ajmi (5th), Nabil Al-Fadhel (3rd), Khaled Al-Shulaimi (4th), and Abdulhameed Dashti (1st).

In an election boycotted by the opposition, the government knew that it would have a new parliament dominated by supporters, but Kuwait’s political crisis is far from over, and new developments could lead to yet another election being called in the not-too-distant future, particularly a ruling by the Constitutional Court against the Emir’s decree, which would dissolve the newly-elected assembly and recall the 2009 National Assembly yet again.

Former MP Ali Al-Omair says courts may delay election

Former MP Ali Al-Omair, who is running for the National Assembly in the Third Constituency, said that it is possible that the court might delay the elections in its ruling tomorrow, according to Kuwait Times. If the court does delay the election then it would mean that the parliament elected in 2009 would be reinstated for a second time, after being reinstated in July by the Constitutional Court. The same court would then rule on whether or not the Emir’s decree is constitutional.

Although he is not boycotting the election, Al-Omair has caused problems for the government in the past. In February 2007 he supported a motion to question then-Health Minister Shaikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah over problems with the health care system, including corruption, discrimination, and a decline in the quality of services. After the questioning the minister was facing a no-confidence vote after 10 members signed a motion which would have meant that a member of the Al-Sabah family was facing a no-confidence motion – despite no Minister ever having been removed by one before. To avoid the vote, the government resigned, and the new government appointed by the Emir did not include the former Health Minister in the new cabinet. Later that year, in October 2007, Al-Omair supported questioning the Minister of Islamic and Awqaf Affairs.

Al-Omair’s comments about the potential postponement of the election outline what would happen in the event that the courts intervene. The new parliament could also review the Emir’s decree if the court does not overturn it – unlikely since it will consist primarily of government supporters, but public pressure can cause people to change their opinions. Either way, Kuwait’s political crisis shows no sign of letting up.

Is Kuwait Headed for Yet Another Election? (After this one)

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has said that he will accept any decision by the constitutional court regarding his decree reducing the number of votes citizens are allowed to cast from four to one. He said this in a speech during which he urged citizens to vote, and the government has also launched ads urging citizens to cast their ballots. The opposition is planning a rally organized by @KarametWatan for November 30th, the eve of the election that will be called “Dignity of the Nation 3.”

The opposition’s boycott is largely due to the decree issued by the Emir in which he reduced the number of votes that citizens are allowed to cast from four to one. With the Naitonal Assembly consisting of 50 members, with ten each elected from five districts. With the one-vote system, this means that it will be easier for the government to manipulate the electoral process to ensure success by pro-government candidates. Even with the opposition boycotting there are still 389 candidates running for 50 seats, meaning that those elected would likely need less than 10 percent of the vote to win – which is why the opposition views it as favorable to government allies and why they refuse to participate.

Legal challenges may be filed against the Emir’s decree – and this is where it gets interesting. A challenge to the electoral law may be referred to the Constitutional Court by ordinary trial courts, at which point the Constitutional Court can consider making a ruling on the constitutionality of the decree. If the court does decide to overturn the decree – and that’s a big if – then its interesting to see what would happen.

I foresee one of two things – the court itself ordering the dissolution of the national assembly because it was elected improperly (or it being dissolved) or an attempt by the government to resist holding new elections, which would escalate the country’s political crisis further. My guess is that they take the first route, which could lead to yet another general election for Kuwait, which would be the sixth since the current Emir assumed the throne in 2006. If the court decides to maintain the decree then the opposition boycott will continue.

Either way the political crisis is likely to escalate over the coming months, with no clear resolution in sight.