AMMAN — The Muslim Brotherhood is in talks with various political forces to form a “shadow government” in the latest sign that the Jordanian opposition is preparing to boycott upcoming parliamentary polls.
According to Muslim Brotherhood deputy leader Zaki Bani Rsheid, the Islamist movement is reaching out to political parties, professional associations and reformist coalitions to form a “parallel government” as part of a potential boycott campaign.
“This initiative is a message that if citizens’ demands are lent a deaf ear, they will take matters into their own hands,” Bani Rsheid told The Jordan Times.
The parallel government would be modelled after British parliamentary “shadow Cabinets” and will include a shadow prime minister, issue policy statements and even receive officials from Jordan and abroad.
According to Islamists, the 30-member parallel government will be selected by a “shadow parliament” comprising political parties, professional associations, opposition figures and “concerned citizens” to serve as a counterbalance to what they expect to be a “rubber stamp parliament”.
“If decision makers won’t let the true representatives of the people gather under the Dome, the least we can do is gather outside Parliament,” Bani Rsheid said.
Under the proposal, the National Popular Movement Council — an Islamist-spearheaded umbrella body comprising various political and social forces — would serve as a foundation for the shadow parliament, to be formed shortly following the coming polls, tentatively slated for December.
So-called popular movements — coalitions of reformists, independents and youth activists that have been the main driving force behind Jordan’s 17-month protest movement — say they are willing to take part in the initiative should authorities fail to amend a controversial draft elections law.
“If we are not allowed to take part in the decision-making process, we will take the decisions ourselves,” said Muath Btoush of the Karak Popular Movement.
The move comes as the latest escalation in an ongoing showdown over a draft elections law activists and observers claim fails to break away from a one-person, one-vote electoral system that favours independent candidates at the expense of political parties.
In addition to maintaining the one-vote formula at the district level, activists object to the law’s allocation of only 12 per cent of the Chamber’s 140 seats through proportional representation, a formula that falls well short of the 50 per cent proposed by political parties.
Activists launched the first of a series of nightly rallies late Tuesday, within hours of the Lower House’s endorsement of the legislation, which is currently before the Senate’s Legal Committee.
Parliamentary sources expect the Upper House to approve the law with few modifications — a move the opposition warns will all but seal their boycott decision.