Jordan new electoral law scraps contested system

AFP, Monday 9 Apr 2012

A new electoral law passes in Jordan that scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and increases a parliamentary quota for women

Jordan said on Monday it has approved a long-awaited electoral law that scraps a contested one-person-one-vote system and increases a parliamentary quota for women MPs.

Under the proposed law, voters can cast three ballots: two for individual candidates in their governorate and one for a party or coalition nationwide, in line with a proportional representation system, Prime Minister Awan Khasawneh said.

"The new system offers a middle ground solution for those who are against the one-person-one-vote and those who support it," Khasawneh told a news conference.

"The goal is to help political parties and coalitions place themselves on the country's political map."

The opposition Islamists, trade unions and media have repeatedly attacked the one-person-one-vote system first adopted in 1993, which they say produces loyalist MPs who do not represent the people.

Under this system, although there can be more than one seat in a given constituency, voters are allowed to choose only one candidate. Before 1993, voters were able to vote for all seats in their constituency.

Khasawneh said the newly drafted law also increased the number of seats in parliament to 138 from 120.

"One of the law's main changes is that a quota for women seats in the lower house of parliament has become 15 instead of 12," he added.

"This would do more justice to women."

The quota system was first imposed by King Abdullah II in 2003 as part of his drive to encourage women in the conservative desert monarchy.

Khasawneh said the draft law was sent on Sunday to parliament for debate.

The so-called Arab Spring has had a limited impact on Jordan.

The Islamists and other groups have been protesting since last year, calling for sweeping reforms, including a new electoral law to ensure fair representation.

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