Jordanians Head to the Polls With Little Enthusiasm

By: Fernande van Tets for Al-Monitor. Posted on January 23, 2013


AMMAN — “No, I am not voting” spits Khaled, a cabbie with eight children to feed. “They are all words and no action,” he continues, echoing an often heard sentiment on the streets of Jordan.


Enthusiasm for these elections was low from the beginning, with the registration deadline being pushed back several times to amass more potential voters.

Politicians are aware of the sentiment. “Not just words, but action,” reads the banner in the tent of the Watan list, one of the contenders for Jordan’s new 27 national seats. More than 1,400 candidates competed for 150 parliamentary seats, 15 of which are allocated to women and 108 to districts. The Islamic Action Front boycotted the elections, with Deputy Secretary-General Nimer el-Assaf calling the system an “empty shell.” 

The effects of the boycott are unclear; a little more than half of the country showed up to the polls. Those who did cited family or access to wasta, favoritism that comes through connections, rather than political ideas as motives for electing candidates. 

A wealth of posters showing benevolently smiling candidates are plastered around the  country and people crowded around polling stations Wednesday. However, below the surface, enthusiasm was low. Those canvassing, including many children, knew little of their candidate’s political programs, citing family connections or money as their primary motives. “I have no idea what he stands for,” said one young man distributing flyers in Amman’s Jabal Hussein, adding that it was work that would earn him roughly $30. 


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