Jordan holds parliamentary elections amid coronavirus surge | Center East
The Jordanian government is more representative than others in the Middle East, but most of the power is held by King Abdullah II.
Jordanians are voting to elect a new parliament in a country that has long been a close ally of the West and is now struggling to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.
Elections will be held on Tuesday, in which 130 members of the lower house of parliament will be elected. 15 seats are reserved for women, nine for Christians and three for Chechens and Circassians.
Parliament was dissolved at the end of September and the law requires new elections to be held within four months.
The Jordanian government is more representative than others in the Middle East, but most of the power is held by King Abdullah II, who appoints the government and can dissolve parliament at any time.
More than 4.5 million Jordanians are eligible to vote in 23 constituencies. The polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (05:00 GMT) and are slated to close 12 hours later, although an extension of two hours is possible.
Political parties, including one affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood group, are allowed to participate, but elections have traditionally favored tribal candidates, businessmen, and loyal independents over the king.
Jordanian election officials check ballot boxes at a polling center in Amman [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]To encourage voters, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission said it had taken precautions to ensure social distancing and prevent overcrowding.
Face masks are required to enter the polling station, and gloves and a pen are given to each person.
Voter IDs must be scanned electronically and individuals do not dip their fingers in ink. This is the usual measure to prevent people from casting multiple ballots. Instead, officials mark voters’ fingers with a pipette or spray.
The government has imposed regular lockdowns and curfews since the pandemic began. The next plan is to impose a 24-hour curfew for four days from Wednesday.
The kingdom reported 5,665 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic started to nearly 115,000 – 98 percent of which were reported in the past two months. 1,295 deaths have been reported.
Jordan with around 10 million inhabitants borders Syria and Iraq and is home to a large number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees.