AMMAN — The Lower House on Tuesday passed the 2012 draft elections law after three days of deliberations over the bill, completing all political reform-related laws.
With deputies’ endorsement of the 72-article legislation, the bill is now in the hands of senators. If passed by the two Houses, all laws governing the political reform process will have been completed, paving the way for national polls expected before the end of the year.
The other components of the package include the Municipalities Law, the Independent Elections Commission Law, the Political Parties Law and the Constitutional Court Law, all of which have gone through the necessary constitutional channels and are now in place.
Under the Legal Committee’s amendments to Article 8 of the key reform-oriented law, which were approved by MPs, each voter will be given two votes: one for a candidate at the district level and another for a closed proportional list that will compete for 17 seats at the national level.
Also as recommended by the panel and overwhelmingly approved by deputies, the number of Lower House seats at the governorate level will stand at 108, which will be contested in 45 constituencies in the Kingdom’s 12 governorates and the three badia regions.
The House also approved the allocation of 15 seats for the women’s quota under the committee’s amendments to Paragraph C of Article 8 of the bill.
The next Lower House will consist of 140 seats as recommended by the panel and approved by deputies, instead of 138 as proposed by the government of former prime minister Awn Khasawneh that drafted the key piece of legislation.
Voting identification cards will be issued to eligible voters. The IDs will be used together with civil identification cards and electoral lists to verify a voter’s identity under deputies’ amendments to Article 4 of the draft elections law.
During Tuesday’s session, a majority of MPs voted down two memoranda submitted by 11 and 13 deputies, respectively, to revisit Article 8 of the legislation, requesting that the 17 seats for the closed proportional list at the national level be increased and that the parliamentary seats allocated for certain districts be raised.
Moreover, under deputies’ amendments to Paragraph A of Article 51 of the legislation, a woman candidate that gains the highest percentage of votes in the district will be announced a winner under the women’s quota.
As worded by the former government, a woman who gains the highest number of votes in a governorate will make it to Parliament.
Also on Tuesday, deputies approved the panel’s amendments to Paragraph B of the said article under which a revote will be conducted to determine the winner out of two women candidates with the same percentage of votes.
In the government version, a tiebreaker was to be used to determine the winner.
A majority of MPs also voted down a suggestion by Karak Deputy Atef Tarawneh to add a provision to the legislation obliging eligible voters to participate in the elections or else they will be penalised under the mandatory voting system.
Some deputies hailed the proposal, arguing that it will lead to increasing participation while its opponents explained that it limits people’s freedom.
Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh said that the suggested provision is difficult to implement.
Head of the Legal Committee Balqa MP Mahmoud Kharabsheh noted that the proposal is against Article 7 of the Constitution related to public freedoms.
Draft elections law highlights
- Each voter will be given two votes: one for a candidate at the district level and another for a closed proportional list that will compete for 17 seats at the national level.
- The number of Lower House seats at the governorate level will stand at 108, which will be contested in 45 constituencies in the Kingdom’s 12 governorates and the three badia regions.
- The Lower House will consist of 140 seats, of which 15 seats will be allocated for the women’s quota.
- Voting identification cards will be issued to eligible voters.
- A revote will be conducted if two candidates gain the same number of votes.
- Jordanians living abroad will not be allowed to take part in elections outside the Kingdom.
- Heads of polling centres have to announce preliminary results after sorting ballot boxes.
- Ministers and all public employees can run for elections but they have to resign at least 60 days before the start of the polls.