06.12.13 12:00

KL Took Part in Monitoring the Municipal Elections in Jordan in August 2013

After a long wait – six years – the voters in Jordan were finally on 27 August 2013 allowed to take part in electing their local mayors and councils in the 100 municipalities. The election period is four years, so the election was long overdue as the last one took place in 2007, and the municipalities had for almost three years been managed by mayors and councillors appointed by central government.

The election system has since 2007 been improved. For this election, voters did not have to register for election. All citizens of 18 years and above were automatically qualified as voters in accordance with lists of inhabitants maintained by the Ministry of the Interior. The relevant parts of these lists were sent to all municipalities and polling stations. The citizens’ identity card show where citizens live and where they consequently should vote, and once voters showed up, they were crossed off the voters’ list.

The municipal elections were organized and managed by MoMA, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs with the National Election Commission in a monitoring role. Some has doubts over this arrangement but the elections were generally praised a free and fair and MoMA did a good job.

Unfortunately, the voter participation was very low. Out of the 3,7 mill. voters, it is estimated by MoMA that approximately 1,25 mill. voters could not vote, comprised by army staff, Jordanians working abroad, people organizing the municipal elections, etc.

Approximately 880,000 people voted, which constitute 35,9% of the 2,45 mill. voters who could vote. If we calculate the cast votes (880,000) in share of the total electorate (3,7 mill.), the share is 23,8%.

For this municipal election, it was decided by the armed forces and army staff could not vote, unlike in 2007 where the participation of the armed forces in municipal elections created havoc and led to severe criticism of the fairness of the elections.

It is a weakness with the election system in Jordan that ”prior voting” (voting before election day) is not possible, making it impossible for the many Jordanians working abroad or being away on election day to take part in elections. This should be changed for the next elections as many other countries run such a system without any problems. Once such a system is in place, it may also solve the problem with the participation of the armed forces in elections, as these could vote before election day, thus avoiding intimidation at election day of having people in uniforms voting.

Likewise, the Jordanian election system should also facilitate the participation of the handicapped, sick and old people in the elections. As of now they have no chance of taking part but an outgoing voting service at election day can be instituted as it is in other countries.

The share of women comprises 30,6% of the 970 municipal council members, 27,7% if the mayors are included as well. This is probably the highest share of women in the whole MENA region and Jordan deserves much credit for this result. Unfortunately, no women became mayors.

More information can be obtained from Holger Pyndt,