Jordan to hold parliamentary elections on November 10
Jordan is heading to polls on November 10 to elect a new Parliament amid the ongoing struggles to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
While several activists called for postponing the polls raising concerns over surging virus transmission, the government asserted on going forward with the elections. Interestingly, election campaigning also moved to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Parliament was dissolved earlier in September, following which Jordanian Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Al-Maaytah called for the elections to be held immediately. Under Jordanian law, new elections must take place within four months of dissolving the Parliament.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II issued a royal decree on October 12, appointing Bisher al-Khasawneh as the new Prime Minister as well as the Defence Minister of the country. After taking the oath of office, Al-Khasawneh pledged to overhaul Jordan’s troubled economy in the Hashemite Kingdom. Khasawneh’s new cabinet includes 32 ministers, out of which eight have been retained from the previous government of Omar al-Razzaz, including the significant finance minister (Mohamad al-Ississ) and foreign minister (Ayman al-Safadi) posts.
Many in the country see the Parliament as a rubber-stamp body as most of the powers rest with the King of Jordan under the country’s Constitution. He has the right to appoint the Prime Minister, government and the legislation, which consists mainly of businessmen, pro-government tribal officials and former security officials.
Meanwhile, around 4.5 million eligible voters in Jordan will be casting their votes to appoint their representatives to the 130 seats in the Parliament. Analysts are expecting a low turnout for the polling, keeping in view the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in the country. Amid the prevailing circumstances, the government has mobilised more than 40,000 security personnel across all 1,880 polling stations to ensure smooth operations. Jordan is grappling with the worst economic fallout in decades due to the pandemic restrictions that has resulted in escalating unemployment and poverty in the country.
Newly-appointed members of the Parliament will have to face a Coronavirus-battered economy that is highly dependent on international aid. One of the major goals for the Jordan administration will be to restructure the country’s debt that is estimated at over 100 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), as per reports. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the economy of Jordan as the country lost approximately $3 billion in crucial tourism revenues in the first three quarters of 2020. As per reports, the Jordanian government is likely to impose a five-day nationwide lockdown from November 11, a day after the parliamentary elections in a bid to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.