AMMAN — Two candidates out of the six running for Lower House speaker have the strongest chance in the polls slated for November 3, parliamentary sources said on Sunday.

Current Speaker Saad Hayel Srour, an independent candidate, and the head of the Watan (Homeland) bloc (20 MPs), Atef Tarawneh, are leading in the race, several MPs said.

Tarawneh’s prospects increased dramatically over the past few days after his bloc joined forces with two others, forming a coalition of 59 MPs who support him to run for speaker.

The coalition includes the Watan, National Labour Front (19 MPs) and the Islamic Centrist Party blocs (20 MPs).

However, Tarawneh is expected to face strong competition from Srour, who is supported by heavy-weight independent deputies, in addition to the support of the National Accord bloc, whose members are set to reach 17 MPs, according to the bloc’s leader, Deputy Mirza Bollad (Zarqa, 1st District).

The other four candidates are expected to withdraw from the race ahead of the Parliament’s ordinary session, parliamentary sources said.

According to Kholoud Khatatbeh (Ajloun), spokesperson of the Watan bloc, the 59-MP coalition has studied the situation and found that Tarawneh’s chances are the highest.

Hence, she said the coalition will officially announce its support for Tarawneh in the next few days, although head of the Islamic Centrist Party bloc Mustafa Amawi had already declared that he will run for the post.

However, Amawi is expected to step down in favour of Tarawneh, and become the coalition’s candidate for the post of first deputy speaker, sources from inside the coalition told The Jordan Times.

According to these sources, who spoke under condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to talk to the press, Tarawneh has supporters even within rivals blocs.

Other deputies who expressed interest in running for speaker are former speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi, leader of the Renaissance bloc Assaf Shobaki and Deputy Nassar Qaisi, who is a member of the Future bloc (8 MPs).