AMMAN — The draft elections law does not favour any political group over others and will relatively ensure just and fair representation of all Jordanians, the government said on Monday.
At a press conference, Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh said the draft law, which was sent to Parliament on Sunday, is not the end of the road; rather, it will be subject to further dialogue and debate by lawmakers and any amendments they deem necessary in coordination with the government.
The Cabinet endorsed the draft law on Saturday, adopting a mixed electoral system featuring a majority vote in the governorates and a closed proportional list at the national level, while raising the number of Lower House seats to 138, including 15 seats designated for the women’s quota.
“It does not mean that our job is over. We will defend the draft, explain it and support it during Parliament’s deliberations until it is endorsed. We acknowledge that there are still some negative points and there is a chance to address them in consultation with all,” the premier said.
In the meantime, the government will embark on drafting the elections bylaw, which will tackle the details, including the map of constituencies and mechanisms of implementation.
“We have heard some criticism over the government’s failure to engage in dialogue with all parties. The political map of the Kingdom will not be clear until the electoral districts are identified, which will be clear in the bylaw.”
“We urge those groups to be patient as we will engage with all stakeholders while preparing the bylaw,” the prime minister said, adding that the government, by sending the draft elections law to Parliament, has fulfilled its commitment to the public regarding wrapping up the political reform package, which includes laws governing political parties, the envisioned constitutional court and independent elections commission, municipalities and legislative elections.
The government realises that political reform cannot be achieved through mere drafting of these laws, he said, explaining that what is more important is to see to it that these pieces of legislation are properly and fairly implemented.
“The country does not tolerate any vote rigging. We are working to ensure that the upcoming elections will be run freely and with utmost fairness and integrity in order to ensure just representation of all citizens in Parliament,” Khasawneh said.
Meanwhile, the premier stressed that the government has no worries or fears over any specific party gaining a majority of the seats under the Dome, in an apparent reference to Islamists, adding that the criticism directed at the draft by a diversity of political groups reflects its neutrality.
Regarding the demographic representation of citizens in Parliament, he asserted that the government is keen to ensure just and fair representation of all citizens regardless of their backgrounds or origins.
But Khasawneh said the government cannot set a date for the elections until all relevant laws have gone through constitutional channels.
“We know that the endorsement of laws is necessary for the political reform process, but what is more important is to ensure that they are implemented properly,” he said.
“We are keen to ensure that the independent commission for monitoring the elections is ready to undertake its duties in running the elections,” said the premier, adding that the government will soon send people to India to learn from their experience in monitoring the elections.
Last month, Chief Election Commissioner of India Shahabuddin Quraishi visited the Kingdom and met with Khasawneh and several ministers to discuss India’s experience in supervising elections.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement on Monday, renewing the movement’s dissatisfaction with the draft law and calling for its withdrawal and drafting a new bill that meets popular demands..