* Muslim Brotherhood boycott boosts grip of tribal
* Election observers criticise electoral districts
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN, Jan 24 Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood on
Thursday promised more street protests to demand electoral
reform, after pro-government candidates coasted to victory in
elections that the Islamist group boycotted as unfair.
State television said most of the 150 seats contested in
Wednesday's vote were won by independents, candidates with
limited political agendas who rely on family and tribal
allegiances rather than party backing.
The growth of tribalism as a political force in Jordan has
blunted the emergence of national parties and curbed the
influence of the Brotherhood
"We won't deviate from our goals. We are moving ahead in our
path. Popular street agitation will continue until we achieve
our goals," the Brotherhood's deputy leader Zaki Bani Rusheid
Jordan has seen major demonstrations against corruption that
were critical of King Abdullah, though not on the scale of those
that toppled Arab rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and led to civil
wars in Libya and Syria.
The protesters have focused on reforming government and
limiting King Abdullah's powers rather than ousting the
The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political
wing in Jordan and the country's largest opposition party,
shunned the election because it said the electoral law was
designed to curb its influence.
Bani Rusheid said the new parliament was no different from
previous rubber-stamp assemblies packed by government loyalists.
"This assembly has the same credentials of the previous one
in its weakness and lack of will in practicing its
constitutional role in legislation and making governments
accountable," the Islamist figure told Reuters.
"The biggest absentee was the will of the people. The
disappointment with the assembly will be quick and faster than
A 50-strong international observation team fielded by the
USAID-funded National Democratic Institute also raised some of
the concerns of the Islamist opposition about the election.
"The unequal size of districts and an electoral system that
amplifies family, tribal and national cleavages limit the
development of a truly national legislative body and challenge
King Abdullah's stated aim of encouraging full parliamentary
government," the mission said in a report on Thursday.
Turnout for was 56 percent of the country's 2.3 million
registered voters, according to officials.
TOWN VERSUS COUNTRY
The Islamic Action Front said last year it would boycott the
polls after the tribal-dominated parliament passed a electoral
law that magnified the clout of native Jordanian constituencies
at the expense of cities.
Urban areas are home to many citizens of Palestinian origin
and which tend to be Islamist strongholds.
The Islamists say only a fraction of Jordan's eligible
voters cast their ballots and that another 2.4 million eligible
voters did not register to vote on Wednesday in Jordan's first
parliamentary election since the Arab uprisings.
Islamists draw more support in the densely populated cities,
where most of the country's 7 million population live, and
voting is more along political and ideological lines.
In the major cities, including the capital, all strongholds
of the country's most organised political grouping, turnout
figures averaged around 40 percent. In sparsely populated rural
and Bedouin areas it was more than 70 percent.
Officials said the elections were a milestone in democratic
reforms espoused by the king and dismissed suggestions the new
parliament would give an easy ride to the government.
"The results show we have gone a long way in creating
confidence in the electoral process," said Abdulillah al-Khatib,
the head of the electoral commission that oversaw the polls.
King Abdullah will for the first time consult the new
parliament when he picks a government as part of constitutional
changes devolving his prerogatives to parliament which critics
said had been sidelined. The monarch appoints prime ministers.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour is expected to resign but be
kept on as caretaker premier until a new government is formed
when parliament convenes in mid-February.