The elections are over, (most of) the votes have been counted, the winners announced, and the morning papers are aflutter with post-election coverage. Here’s a rundown of some of yesterday’s highlights as relayed by the local media and Jordanian bloggers:
Despite the gloomy and rainy weather, voter turnout as of today, stood at around 55%, representing just over half of Jordan’s 2.4 million eligible voters. Of previous MPs, 29 kept their seats. Preliminary results breaking down turnout, seats, and number of candidates can be viewed here and here (arabic).
The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, cried foul, pointing to vote-buying and the government’s inability (or unwillingness) to stop it, as signs of voter fraud. Nevertheless, the IAF suffered a disappointing loss as a party, with only 7 of its 22 candidates managing a win. However, Wihdat camp residents retain a lot of support for the party.
Meanwhile, candidates transported their constituents to the polls but forgot to drive them back, while bulk SMS messages swept through the Kingdom’s cell phone users throughout the day, asking voters to vote for a specific candidate, with volume increasing as the polls neared their closing time. In another phenomenon, many of Jordan’s youth could be found supporting candidates by distributing leaflets outside the polling stations. In a Jordan Times article many said they would be breaking with tradition and voting for a non-family member.
About 199 women ran for a seat out of a total of 885 candidates, which is much higher than the 54 out of 765 candidates running in the 2003 elections. Falak Jumani, won a seat in Parliament with 3,301 votes, making her the first woman to do so outside the women’s quota and pushing the number of women under the dome to 7. The remaining 6 were filled through the women’s quota as no female candidate garnered enough votes. Those seats were distributed amongst Tafilah, Balqa, Kerak and Zarqa Governorates, with surprisingly none from Amman.
QUOTABLE: Several women in the camp who cast their ballots in a nearby polling centre said their choice of candidate was decided by their husbands.
“I do not know anything about the election, but my husband told me to elect Hamzah Mansour and so I did,” said Um Mohammad, a housewife and mother of four. “Would I dare to elect someone other than the person my husband told me to? He would divorce me if he knew I voted for someone else,” her neighbour Um Hosam told The Jordan Times. [source]
One report indicates that two bus loads of 50 women were prevented from voting in the rural Jiza region. While their voting district was printed on their national IDs, the computer couldn’t find their names registered in the system. The women drove around to other polling venues to see if they could find a loophole in the system.
Meanwhile, in Kerak, which saw a 68% voter turnout, Al-Ghad reports that women in the governate went against their husbands’ wishes and voted for the candidate of their own choice.
Eid Al-Fayez, the Interior Minister, announced the uncovering of several vote-buying incidents in the Kingdom. However it seems a lot of vote-buying took place yesterday, especially in the poorer and rural areas, with some votes going for as high as 200JDs. One incident even saw the son of an ex member of parliament being funded by his brother. Al-Ghad is calling it the “The Election Bourse”, reviewing the phenomenon of candidates even promising everything from money to food and gas heaters for the winter, in return for a vote.
One fight broke out in Madaba between supporters of two candidates, resulting in the destruction of 5 cars but no one was hurt.
QUOTABLE: “After hearing Khaled Abu Al Ghanam speak and learning his agenda, I was persuaded that he really cared about my generation’s issues,” a 24-year-old supporter told The Jordan Times.
When asked when he started supporting the candidate, he shrugged.
“He’s my uncle, I’ve known him all my life,” he noted. [source]
Firas is wondering why candidates who were caught in the act of voter fraud, not prosecuted, or at the very least, disqualified with their names made public. Adel has his own snapshots of the elections. Meanwhile, Batir, Ahmad, Khalaf, Ola and Naseem share their voting experiences. Issam and Mohannad wonder if the golden days of the IAF party are over. Batir feels the parliament has now been handed over, as always, to business men and tribal leaders.
*this post will be updated as developments ensue.