11/22/2007, 00.00
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Defeat of Islamic parties characterises Amman vote

Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, who won a mere six seats in the 110 seat parliament, cry foul play. The Ministry for State announces the arrest of two people for buying votes, but warns against press exaggeration. For the first time a woman has been elected.

Amman (AsiaNews/Agencies) – It’s the defeat of the Islamists – who have cried foul play – the most significant result of November 20th elections, the second to have been held since King Abdullah is monarch.   Partial results indicate that Jordan’s Islamic Action Front – an off shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood – won only 6 of the 110 seat Parliament, which has only limited power, in a country governed by a pro-Western monarchy, that has long been promising democratic evolution.  Before the elections the party held 17 seats and had presented 22 candidates.

Jordan’s electoral system is quite complicated – it provides for reserve seats for minorities, be they ethnic (the Circassia), or religious (Christian) and women – and the government had announced its intention to change it, but has so far done nothing.

Fears of an Islamic Party success fuelled interest in the election results, which opposition parties said were expected; the victory of candidates linked to the Bedouin tribes loyal to the Monarchy.

But the Islamists have denounced fraud. “There was clear vote-rigging in several districts during Tuesday's elections," IAF spokesman Jamil Abu Baker told Middle East Online. “We did not expect all of our candidates to win, but thought that at least 16 or 18 of them would on the basis of our extensive polling”. Abu Baker pointed at the results in Zarqa the countries second biggest city and Islamist stronghold, where the IAF failed even to win a single seat.  

But even the papers report fraud and vote buying, and the Minister for the State, Eid al-Fayez, that the authorities had arrested two people who "tried to buy votes" in Balqa province and in the capital, But he insisted that the issue had been "exaggerated by the media, and there is no proof to support such claims".  

The first results also handed victory to woman dentist Falaka al-Jamaani, who won her seat outright without recourse to the quota of six seats reserved for women in parliament. A record 199 women stood in Tuesday's election in a nation where women count for over half of the electorate.


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