Muslim Brotherhood bloc wins 15 of 130 seats in Jordan vote

By Associated Press 23 September 2016, 12:00AM

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Election officials on Thursday released the results of Jordan's parliament election, and the opposition Muslim Brotherhood said its electoral bloc won 15 of 130 seats, roughly in line with its own predictions.

The number of female legislators rose to 20, from 18 in the outgoing legislature, according to the Independent Election Commission.

In Tuesday's election, about 1.5 million Jordanians cast ballots for competing lists of candidates in 23 districts under a new proportional system.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Islamic Action Front, had boycotted elections in 2010 and 2013 to protest the previous system, which it said unfairly favored pro-monarchy tribal representatives. The IAF competed this time, forging electoral alliances with Christian, ethnic minority or tribal candidates in some areas.

The IAF-led alliance won 15 seats, the party announced Thursday, after final results were released.

The alliance will be the largest voting bloc in the new parliament, enough to serve as a vocal opposition, but likely too small to challenge establishment legislators.

In the new parliament, 15 seats were reserved for women, nine for Christians and three for ethnic minority Chechens and Circassian.

The total number of female legislators in the new parliament will be 20, including five who won competitively, outside the quota, election officials said.

Salma Nims, who heads Jordan's quasi-governmental National Commission for Women, said she was encouraged by the increase. "It shows that the quota (system) is an opener for women," she said.

The female lawmakers can try to build consensus on some issues, such as labor laws, even if some are secular and others devout Muslims, she said.

One of the newcomers is Huda Etoum, a 52-year-old high school principal from the central city of Jerash.

Etoum, one of three women in the IAF-led electoral bloc, will be the second lawmaker to wear a face veil.

She said in a phone interview Thursday that she has been in public service for more than two decades and that the face veil, or niqab, was never an issue.

"It is not my mind that is covered, it is my face," she said. "Covering my face won't hinder my public service or dealing with men in any of my activities."

Etoum said she would seek to reverse recent education reforms which she felt removed too many religious references from school books.

By Associated Press 23 September 2016, 12:00AM
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