Political Risk Analysis - Quick View: Local Elections Will Not Spur Political Change - OCT 2017

The Latest: Elections for 100 town and city councils - as well as 12 new provincial councils - were held across Jordan on August 15, in what authorities described as a push to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level. Preliminary results indicate that the Islamic Action Front (IAF, the local political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood) won a large number of seats (five out of 12 in Amman, 25 out of 48 in the provincial councils and 41 out of 88 in the local councils). Voter turn-out stood at a low 31.7%.

Implications: The elections may grant councils somewhat more influence over infrastructure and development spending at the local level, but they will not result in any fundamental changes to the overall structure and balance of power in Jordan. Amman's political reform process appears to have stalled, and no progress has been made to curb gerrymandering in favour of pro-government elements (which are concentrated in rural tribal areas, where the population benefits from access to public sector support and jobs) - a key grievance among oppositional elements. The very low voter turn-out points to a widespread lack of faith among Jordanians in the government's reform programme, and in their own ability to have any meaningful impact on policy-making processes in the kingdom.

Meanwhile, the IAF's local electoral gains will not translate into a strengthening of the party's power at the national level. Its activities are still heavily restricted by Amman, and given the abovementioned manipulation of constituency borders, its members' ability to take up seats in parliament remains limited.

Political Reform Process Has Stalled
Jordan - Survey: 'To What Degree Do You Feel You Have A Say In Government Decision-Making?', % Of Respondents
Note: Carried out in May 2017; sample size = 1,000. Source: BMI, Center For Insights In Survey Research

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