AMMAN — Islamist-affiliated candidates will make up the bulk of the incoming University of Jordan (UJ) student union after winning 36 out of 94 seats in unusually calm elections on Thursday, with no acts of violence reported on campus.
According to sources at the university’s deanship of student affairs, Islamist students won 33 out of 85 seats allocated for individual candidates and three seats out of nine allocated for the university-wide proportional lists.
When announcing the official results of the elections, the university administration does not publicly announce students’ political affiliations, so these numbers could not be officially corroborated.
This year, UJ modified the regulations governing the student union elections, coming up with a set of rules similar to the 2012 parliamentary Elections Law.
The 85 individual seats were elected by department, with one seat per 300 students in each department.
At a press conference on Thursday evening, Ridha Khawaldeh, head of the elections’ higher committee, said 23 members won seats in the union by default, while students on Thursday cast votes for the remaining 62 independent seats and the nine seats allocated for the lists.
More than 18,000 students voted in the election, he said.
Of the entire student population, 63.6 per cent participated in the vote for the proportional lists was, while 57.3 per cent voted for one of the 62 individual candidates, according to Khawaldeh.
Voter turnout was highest at the rehabilitation sciences college, with 86 per cent, while the lowest was at the college of medicine with 19 per cent.
As for the proportional lists, Khawaldeh said that five lists had registered for the elections and one withdrew. The “Jabal Nahdha” list won five out of the nine list seats, followed by “Awdah” with two seats while both “Burj Al Saa’a” and “Shabibeh” won one seat each.
UJ President Ekhleif Tarawneh said that the new regulations similar to the Elections Law were meant to prepare UJ’s more than 37,000 students for the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for January 23.
Tarawneh added that 396 candidates ran in the election, including 109 women.
While student union elections frequently witness violence, this year’s election took place without any clashes among candidates or their supporters, the UJ president added.
Fighting broke out during last year’s student union elections, leading to the injury of students, reporters and security personnel, while in 2010, eight students were expelled and 28 others were punished in connection with election-related brawls in which 12 were injured.
Still, this did not mean that everyone was satisfied with the results.
A student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticised the way in which the university administration calculated the proportional list winners.
Based on results announced by the administration, 5,529 students voted for the Awdah list, which won two seats, while the Burj Al Saa’a list won one seat in the union despite receiving only 1,539 votes — less than one-third as many as Awdah.
The student who spoke to The Jordan Times said that discrepancy was “unfair”.