Muncipality Elections

الأربعاء 01 آب 2007

Voting

Written by Lina Ejeilat

Voting for the Municipal elections in five areas in Amman has been extended until Wednesday due to low turnout (highest percentage 38%), while results are coming out for the different municipalities across Jordan after a day that witnessed riots, gun shooting, delays and interruptions of the voting process, and a last-minute withdrawal of the Islamic Action Front candidates.

Municipal Elections have taken place this year after some major amendments to the municipal elections law. The previous law, which was enacted in 2001, dictated that half the council members and the mayors be appointed by the government. This changed with the new law, with the public voting for the entire council and the mayor, except in the Greater Amman Municipality. The new law also introduced a 20% minimum quota for women, and decreased the minimum voter age from 19 to 18, giving the chance to 150,000 young people to participate in the elections.

There were 1.9 million registered voters, 48% of whom were women. 2,706 candidates were competing for 956 seats, of which 218 go to women candidates by the quota. 360 women ran for the elections. Only 33 candidates were from the Islamic Action Front party.

Voters
During the course of the day, fighting erupted in some voting centers in Madaba, Salt, and downtown Amman. In Madaba, eye witnesses said that there was extensive gunfire and that people were throwing stones at vehicles. In downtown Amman, supporters of one of the candidates were attacked, and many people could not go in to vote because of the crowd and the clashes between security forces and rioters. Voting in the downtown center has been extended until tomorrow. Voting was also extended for additional hours today in Madaba, Salt, Irbid, Rusaifa, and Al-Mi’rad.

The Islamic Action Front announced mid-day that it’s withdrawing its candidates from the elections, due to what it called electoral fraud and government manipulation of the voting process. The IAF statement accused the government of sending members of the Armed Forces in civilian dress to voting centers with clear directions to vote for “certain candidates”. They listed other reasons for withdrawal, including harassment of voters, candidates, and reporters, overstuffing of voting stations, as well as the riots and violence.

Prime Minister Ma’roof Al-Bakhit said the withdrawal is illegitimate and unconstitutional. He also emphasized the right of Military personnel to cast their vote in the Municipal elections.

As results for most areas and municipalities have been announced last night, only one woman won outside the quota system, in the position of Mayor for Al-Hassa municipality in Tafila.

Check out Jordan’s blogosphere reactions:

From Abu Aardvark

And from Whats up in Jordan

Photos by Lina Ejeilat