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JORDAN: Islamists lose elections

November 21, 2007 |  8:39 am

Preliminary results from Jordan's elections Tuesday showed Islamists losing more than half of their parliamentary seats and those aligned with King Abdullah II winning big, according to Reuters.

The results were no big surprise for most observers, who saw the election as rigged to give the king's secular and Islamic opponents, like the Islamic Action Front, little chance at mounting a credible opposition. The Front's total dropped from the 17 seats it won in 2003 to seven.

The big loss for the Islamic Action Front comes as the party split between hard-liners who wanted to boycott the election altogether and moderates who wanted to give it a chance. The results may boost the hardline position.

"Either the public changed their minds about the IAF," wrote Jordanian blogger Mohanned al-Arabiat on Jordan, I will be back. "Or — which I think is more like it — their base boycotted the elections and lined up with the hawks."

The government says more than half the electorate turned out. Some groups went all out to get voters to the polls, as shown by this hip-hop video urging young people to take part.

According to the blog, Journeys in Jordan, by a University of Illinois exchange student living in Amman, apathy was the prevailing mood of the electorate.

While my host mom voted in this election, my host sister did not. In line with voter apathy in Amman, especially among youth, she scoffed at the idea of voting, saying that no matter who she votes for, things will not change.

Not everyone considered the elections fatally flawed. Blogger Batir Jeeran at Jordan Watch describes in detail how he went about deciding on a candidate. "I spent a lot of time and mental energy before I decided to actually vote just to be positive and try to select the best available candidiate in my district," he wrote Tuesday.

By the next day, results trickled in showing the preponderance of rich and well-connected winners, he became more cynical. "Money, tribes, racial connections ... and new rich candidate and vote-buying decided the fate of Amman elections," he wrote.

Seven out of nearly 200 female candidates made it into the 110-seat Council of Deputies, a result that disappointed The Arab Observer.

...With the amount of talk about the need of having more women representative in the parliament and the whole hype about women rights organizations working on gaining more acknowledgement for women capabilities in being in authoritive roles, I did expect better results. In truth, only one woman (Falak Al Jam'ani) made it without the six guaranteed quota seats. That is in no way a new achievement.

— Borzou Daragahi in Beirut