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Jordan's moderate Islamists set to make gains in parliamentary poll

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Jordan's moderate Islamists set to make gains in parliamentary poll

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There’s been a low turn out in parliamentary elections in Jordon. Officials said only 36 percent of over 4 million eligible voters cast a ballot.

Despite modest attempts by King Abdullah to democratise the process, there is voter apathy in a parliament dominated by tribal deputies loyal to the monarchy.

But this could be an opportunity for the Islamic Action Front – the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“We are hopeful that (elections) this year will lead us to better conditions. It is clear since the beginning of the election process that everything will go well. The candidates are good people. God willing they will do what is good for the country, “ said one voter.

“We are hopeful because there are new faces that have appeared and we are expecting them to do well and not be like the previous (Members of Parliament), who only worked for their own benefit,” said another.

A total of 1,252 candidates were standing. Seats have been set aside for 15 women, nine Christians and three representatives of the Circassian and Chechen minorities.

Businessmen and tribal officials loyal to the monarchy are expected to be the biggest winners.

Islamic revival

The Islamists boycotted polls in 2010 and 2013 in protest at the electoral system and allegations of fraud.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been allowed to operate in Jordan since 1946. But it came under suspicion after the Arab Spring, which saw Islamists pitted against established powers in many Arab countries.

Jordan came close to banning the Brotherhood outright this year in what the Islamists say was a settling of scores with them for instigating protests that focused on reforming the government and limiting King Abdullah’s powers, but which fell short of demanding the overthrow of the monarchy.

This year the Islamic Action Front is expected to clinch about 20 seats in the 130-member parliament, which would make it the largest opposition force.

Conflict on its borders

The vote comes as Jordan wrestles with the spillover of wars in Syria and Iraq and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The kingdom is a member of the US-led coalition battling jihadists in both neighbouring countries and was the target of a June 21 suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group that killed seven border guards.

The results are expected within the next 48 hours.

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