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%)

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.

الانتخابات البرلمانية: رد فعل مبدئي

قد و اخيراً انتهوا الانتخابات البرلمانية. وقدرت اللجنة الانتخابية المستقلة نسبة المشاركة 1.28 مليون ناخب، وهو ما يقرب من 56 في المئة من الناخبين المسجلين 2.3 مليون في الأردن.

وكان نسبة المشاركة 56 في المئة أعلى بقليل من نسبة المشاركة 53 بالمئة في الانتخابات البرلمانية الأخيرة في العام 2010.

و قد تختلف نسبة المشاركة على نطاق واسع بين المناطق وفقا لأعلى نسبة المشاركة في منطقة البادية وأقل نسبة المشاركة ذكرت في عمان، اربد، و الزرقاء.

هذه المحافظات الثلاث، حيث سجلت أقل نسبة مشاركة هي أيضا الأكثر تمثيلا ناقصا في منطقة المقاعد في البرلمان، وهذا ليس صدفة.

عمان لديها أكبر نسبة من السكان على أعضاء البرلمان في الأردن، و كل عضو في البرلمان يمثل سكان 96000. الزرقاء هي ثاني أكبر محافظة الممثلة تمثيلا ناقصا، مع 85000 من سكان عضوا في البرلمان. ثالث أكثر تمثيلا ناقصا هي محافظة اربد، مع 69000 شخص.

هناك جانب واحد من نسبة المشاركة وهذا هو النظر في قيمتها داخل بعض المحافظات، يمكن أن حجم الدوائر الفردية تختلف على نطاق واسع، وعلينا ان نلاحظ أن العديد من المناطق التي لديها خبرة الاحتجاجات هي المناطق التي تمثل أكثر من في البرلمان . على سبيل المثال، في وسطية، التي شهدت القتيل الوحيد من المحتجين خلال المظاهرات بعد ارتفاع أسعار الوقود، في منطقة التاسعة في اربد. هذه المنطقة تضم عضوا واحدا في البرلمان عن 14400 ناخب مسجل، مقارنة مع الدائرة السابعة في اربد، والتي لديها عضو واحد في البرلمان عن 46300 ناخب مسجل. سيكون من المثير للاهتمام أن نرى ما اذا كان نسبة المشاركة موحد في جميع أنحاء محافظة أو إذا كان أعلى في المناطق التي لديها أصغر نسب أعضاء البرلمان للناخبين.

عندما تصبح المزيد من المعلومات، سأحاول احلل آثارها على الأحداث التي أعقبت الانتخابات في تجهيز تعيين رئيس الوزراء من بعد انسور.

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.

Update 1: King Abdullah’s Pardons Get Murkier

Update: Mohammad Issa Daamas, the detainee who was not pardoned was connected to the killing of a USAID employee, Lawrence Foley, in 2002. It seems as though they may have backed down under US pressure and then let King Abdullah save face by saying it was the cabinet that made the decision.

The recent pardons of jailed members of the Jordanian jihadist movement just got murkier. Today, the state news agency changing its story and saying that five detainees, instead of six, will be pardoned, and that the cabinet recommended that the King issue pardons, rather than the King instructing the government to release them. This is all very strange, as decisions are made with little accountability and no answers even as the government pledges reforms.

Today, Petra, the state news agency, removed the article about the King granting the pardons to six individuals from their home page. According to the original article, the King instructed the government to “take legal measures to release a number of detainees.” It was presented as the King’s decision, and his picture was displayed prominently at the top (The original article is missing from the home page but can still be found by clicking here).

In its place is another article entitled “Cabinet recommends to king release of a number of detainees.” This article, though also very brief, presents a different account of the pardons. According to the new article, the cabinet decided to recommend to the King that pardons be issued to five of the six detainees. The remaining detainee, Mohammad Issa Daamas was not recommended for a pardon, according to Sami Matiyyah, who is government spokesman in addition to serving as Culture Minister and State Minister for Media Affairs.

This is all very strange. No official explanation for the pardons has been given, and the government has changed its story about how they were implemented. Given that all real decision-making power in Jordan resides with one person – the King – one cannot help but imagine that the story was changed to throw up a smokescreen, to make it seem as though the cabinet was involved. It’s impossible to know what really happened, but isn’t it possible that the King simply changed his mind, and then decided to make it look as though the cabinet was involved in the decision so that it would seem as though things were changing?

The bottom line is that as long as decisions like this continue to be made without explanation or accountability, it’s impossible to take seriously the King, or the government, when they claim things are changing.