Israel is not the only Middle Eastern country headed to the polls this week, as neighboring Jordan will also elect its next parliament, but with different stakes. In the face of growing unrest and protests over the slow pace of democratic reforms and a stagnate economy, Jordan’s King Abdullah has scheduled an election for Jan. 23.
Nevertheless, most Jordanians do not have high hopes for the election. Unlike Israel’s democratic election system, Jordan’s system is known for its corruption, with most of the power residing with the King and his tribal supporters.
As a result, many in the Jordanian opposition, including Palestinians – who comprise nearly half the population – and Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood are boycotting the election. “The elections are a theatrical comedy, which we will not take part in,” said Zaki Bani Irsheid from the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Associated Press reported.
However, King Abdullah views the process differently. In a region awash in revolution and threats from Islamists, Abdullah hopes to stave off instability by gradually reforming the system toward a constitutional monarchy. Last year he introduced reforms that will hand over more power to the newly elected parliament. Jordanians will also be able toelect their prime minister directly for the first time.
“The system of ruling in Jordan is evolving … and the monarchy which my son will inherit will not be the same as the one I inherited,” he told a French magazine, the Associated Press reported.