Jordanians voted Wednesday for a parliament with wider authority as the monarchy cedes some of its powers to try to prevent simmering dissent from boiling over into a full blown Arab uprising.
Most notably, the new legislature will be able to choose the prime minister, one of a series of reforms King Abdullah II has undertaken over the past two years to try to keep the lid on rising anger at home as political turmoil has swept across the Middle East. The reforms also make the elected legislature responsible for much of the nation’s day-to-day affairs, and allow for greater freedom of opinion and assembly. Foreign policy and security matters, however, remain — at least for now — in the hands of the king.
The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in the region set off a wave of demonstrations in Jordan, although nothing on the scale of the protests that toppled autocratic leaders in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, let alone the revolt in neighboring Syria that has descended into a bloody civil war. Mindful of the turmoil around him, Abdullah has introduced the reforms at home in a measured manner, trying to manage the pace of change.
To that end, the king has touted the election as the first step on the path to greater democracy. His critics, however, have dismissed the vote as little more than a political ploy, and argue that the monarchy will still retain its absolute powers. The country’s main opposition group, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, was boycotting the election.
Continue reading at the Times of Israel.