Women, Islamists suffer setbacks in election in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The already small number of female legislators in Jordan’s parliament dropped even further on Thursday, while Islamist opposition parties also lost seats as officials announced results from this week’s parliamentary elections.

Khalid Al Kalaldeh, chairman of the Independent Election Commission, said the number of female lawmakers dropped from 20 to 15. Fifteen seats are reserved for women under a quota system, and no women were elected in competitive races, the commission said.

In all, voters chose 130 members of the lower house of parliament, with 15 seats reserved for women, nine for Christians and three for minority Chechens and Circassians.

The government in Jordan, a close U.S. ally, is more representative than others in the Middle East, but most power is held by King Abdullah II, who appoints the government and all members of the senate and can dissolve parliament at any time.

The electoral system favors pro-monarchy tribal representatives, businessmen and independents who are loyal to the king.

The Islamic Action Front, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood group, won only 10 seats, compared to 15 seats in the previous, 2016 election. The party has complained the electoral system is unfair. It forged electoral alliances with Christian, ethnic minority or tribal candidates in some areas.

More than 4.5 million Jordanians were eligible to vote in 23 constituencies. But only 1.38 million people, or 29.9%, voted, down from 36% turnout in 2016.

The election came at a time when the country is dealing with a coronavirus pandemic that has badly hit the economy and its key tourism industry.

Jordan borders both Syria and Iraq, and hosts large numbers of Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

The kingdom, which has a population of around 10 million, has confirmed over 126,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 1,500 deaths.

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