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Thursday, April 24, 2014  

Jordan approves new poll law, raises quota for women MPs
AMMAN Jordan said on Monday it has approved a long-awaited electoral law that scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and increases a quota for women MPs.

But the powerful Islamist opposition slammed the government saying the draft law was a “failure” namely because it limits the number of seats allocated to political parties.

“The new system offers a middle ground solution for those who are against the one-person-one-vote and those who support it,” Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh told a news conference.

“The goal is to help political parties and coalitions place themselves on the country’s political map,” he said.

Under the proposed law, voters can cast three ballots: Two for individual candidates in their governorates and one for a party or coalition nationwide, in line with a proportional representation system.

Khasawneh said the newly drafted law increased the number of seats in parliament to 138 from 120 and expanded a quota system for women.

“One of the law’s main changes is that a quota for women seats in the lower house of parliament has become 15 instead of 12,” he said.

“This would do more justice to women.”

But according to the proposed law, each of the country’s 23 political parties can only field five candidates to compete for the 15 seats allocated for the proportional list, said Khasawneh.

This has triggered harsh criticism from the opposition Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, and analysts alike.

“The proposed law is a big government failure and shows that there is no will to introduce genuine reforms or democratic transformation,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, head of the IAF’s political bureau, said.

“A law that limits the number of seats for political parties regardless of how powerful they are, cannot establish political life in Jordan. It will execute political life and the future of political parties,” he said.

Bani Rsheid said the new law “will reproduce a lower house that does not represent people.”

“This law will strengthen the idea of boycotting elections. Any upcoming polls will not be legitimate,” he added.

“The government has no fears that the Islamists, or other parties, could hold majority representation in parliament,” Khasawneh, who formed his government in October, told reporters.

“The new law does not target the Islamists.”

Mohammad Masri, political researcher at the University of Jordan’s Centre of Strategic Studies, also said the draft law had shortcomings.

Agence France-Presse
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