AMMAN — An unprecedented number of voters cast their ballots in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections to select the 150-strong 17th Lower House, election officials said. 

The final voter turnout was measured at 1,288,043, or around 56.69 per cent of the 2,272,182 registered voters, Independent Elections Commission (IEC) President Abdul Ilah Khatib told reporters.

This figure is higher than the 53 per cent turnout reported in the 2010 elections. Voting time was extended by an hour, with polling stations closing at 8:00pm on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, in an exclusive interview with The Jordan Times and CNN, said the turnout announced by the IEC was “unprecedented” and reflected the people’s will for change.

“Today was a momentous day for Jordan, when the voter turnout reached a very satisfactory level and exceeded expectations,” Judeh said, calling the figure a rebuke to those who were betting on low turnout to delegitimise the polls.

Voter turnout in Amman and Zarqa governorates exceeded 40 per cent, a record compared to previous elections, according to observers.

Preliminary results showed former Lower House speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi winning in Mafraq Governorate. In Karak, three early winners were announced: Eteiwi Majali and Mustafa Rawashdeh for the Muslim seat and Adel Hijazin for the Christian seat. Rawashdeh, a leftist, is also president of the Jordan Teachers Association.

Khatib said the IEC Board of Commissioners will announce the final results of the elections after receiving the final vote tallies from a special committee.

“The committee, which will be formed [on Wednesday night] in accordance with Article 50 of the IEC Law, will be tasked with verifying the preliminary results of the vote received from the 4,069 electoral stations,” Khatib said, adding that once the board ratifies the results, they will be announced to the public at a press conference.

Local and Arab observers said no serious violations were committed during Wednesday’s elections except for very few “unintentional flaws” that had no impact on the integrity of the polls.

National Centre for Human Rights Commissioner General Mousa Burayzat said no “systematic violations” of the election procedures were recorded in polling centres overseen by the centre’s affiliated observers except for minor “technical flaws”.

Khatib noted that the IEC had received comments from the international, Arab and local observers monitoring the elections and had taken action on the spot to address violations as they were reported.

“The violations reported were minor and had no impact on the elections,” he said, declining to comment on a statement issued by the Muslim Brotherhood claiming that turnout was lower than reported. 

Khatib said, however, that the elections were monitored by thousands of observers, who will give their reports on the integrity of the polls in due time.

The Public Security Department (PSD) said all security incidents during election day were minor and the total number was fewer than anticipated.

A total of 46 incidents were reported in the first 11 hours of voting, PSD Director General Gen. Hussein Majali said, noting that the number represents only 5 per cent of what the department expected.

After midnight, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported that a citizen died and two were wounded in festive firing in Maan on Wednesday night. 

A man was shooting a firearm into the air to celebrate the initial results of the elections when he lost control of the firearm and injured three people, Maan police said. 

The PSD’s media centre said around 500 people were involved in late night riots in Karak’s Faqou District over the unofficial results of the elections, Petra reported.

Security forces dealt with the rioters and dispersed them.

Of the total registered voters, 1,093,318 are men and 1,178,864 women, constituting 70 per cent of eligible voters residing in the Kingdom. The voters selected their representatives in 45 local districts around the Kingdom out of 606 individual candidates, including 105 women.

Al the national level, 819 candidates, including 86 women, running on 61 tickets competed for 27 House seats, while 15 other seats are allocated for the women quota.

The Elections Law grants each voter two votes, one at the constituency level and the other at the national level, or the so-called national list, which is allocated 27 seats of the 150-strong legislature. 

Of the total 1,425 candidates who ran in the parliament race, four — the National Union Party list’s head Mohammad Khashman, Amman’s 3rd District candidate Ahmad Safadi, Amman’s 2nd District candidate, Ghazi Elayyan and Madaba candidate Adnan Abu Rukbeh — were in custody on election day pending investigation of their alleged involvement in vote buying 

Around 37,000 workers were involved in election procedures on poll day, including 4,500 volunteers at the 1,484 polling and counting centres nationwide.

The government will submit its resignation to His Majesty King Abdullah after election day, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told reporters on Wednesday, adding that accepting the resignation of his government is in the hands of the King.

“The new prime minister, while not necessarily be an MP, will be designated based on consultation with the majority coalition of parliamentary blocs,” His Majesty has written in a discussion paper released recently.

“If no clear majority emerges initially, then the designation will be based upon consultation with all parliamentary blocs,” he added, noting that “the prime minister-designate will then consult with the parliamentary blocs to form the new parliamentary government and agree on its programme, which will still have to obtain and maintain the Lower House’s vote of confidence.”

On Wednesday, Judeh called the elections a milestone towards further reform and said that those who wanted change could achieve it through participation in the democratic process, criticising groups like the Muslim Brotherhood who boycotted the polls.

“In any country, when the people speak, the rest should respect their decision,” Judeh said.