Strong showing by tribal and Islamist candidates

The strong majority of seats were won by candidates running on personal or tribal mandates, rather than a party platform. Abdelrahim al-Maayaa, head of the Jordan – Turkey Business Council, noted when electoral lists were formed that campaigns were based on ″personal interest″ rather than manifestos.

As the results came in, Al-Ghad estimated that around 85 percent of all seats were won by tribal candidates. Since the Islamist lists included allied tribal candidates, this figure overlaps with those above. While official election results identify winners only by name and not by party, no other list is claiming success.

In the parliamentary elections on 20 September 2016, the NCR won 11.6 percent of the vote in the districts in which it competed, so managing this time to win nearly half of the seats it contested suggests a moderate improvement. Thus while local authorities may not live up to the expectations hyped by government planners, they may give the Islamist opposition a platform from which they can criticise the central government when money fails to come through for their proposed capital investment projects. And if money does come through, they can claim credit for subsequent development.

Either way, the election is unlikely to be a watershed for how the state functions, but it could give the Muslim Brotherhood the status of unofficial opposition they have long sought.

Kirk H. Sowell

© Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2017

Kirk H. Sowell is a political risk analyst and long-time observer of Jordanian politics.

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