King Abdullah of Jordan has promised electoral reform to make parliament more representative, after recent elections were boycotted by Islamists.
They claim that the current rules are biased against urban areas where they have most support, and in favour of the establishment’s tribal strongholds in the countryside.
The king spoke as he inaugurated Jordan’s new parliament, the first to be elected since the Arab spring. The rules must change, he said, to nurture multi-party democracy.
“The elections were held under a law that was not ideal,” he went on. “Accordingly, I call for revisiting this law and reviewing the electoral system in a way that wins consensus, promotes fair representation, and in a way that will enable the parties to compete fairly, and promote the idea of parliamentary government.”
Last year King Abdullah devolved some of his powers to parliament in response to criticism.
But the establishment resisted his efforts to grant more seats to cities dominated by Jordanians of Palestinian descent, who make up the majority of the population.