Akeed - Aya Al Khawaldeh
Several Jordanian news websites promoted an anonymous document on November 8, 2018, proposing several amendments to the current electoral law including reducing seats in the House of Representatives from 130 to 96, assigning new quotas under different titles, and redistributing seats among electoral districts.
The document entitled “Election Law of the House of Representatives 2021” was published by news websites without specifying its source. However, the context inferred that it is an official document that could be adopted and implemented in the next round of parliamentary elections.
The document was widely circulated on “WhatsApp” under the title:
“New Electoral Law Bill before Representatives, Soon” and with the caption “Behind government scenes, special committees are adding the last touches to the new draft law.”
In a survey by Akeed, the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor, four news websites published this document in a context insinuating the likelihood of its approval, using the titles: “Document Reveals Main Features of New Election Bill”, “Reducing Parliamentary Seats to 96”.
Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs spokesperson, Sami Mahasneh, told Akeed that “the government has nothing to do with the un-sourced document which was published in the media about a new electoral bill”, adding that “the subject of amending the law has not been formally discussed until now”.
Mahasneh stated to Akeed that “the document is not official and we have nothing to do with it whatsoever; and it has not been discussed.” He added that the Ministry “received proposals from several parties regarding amendments to the current electoral law, and the Ministry, in turn, has passed all of the proposals to the government”.
As soon as the document spread online, partisan demands surfaced on social networking platforms asking the government to clarify its position on the "leaked document" which news sites promoted as confirmed information coinciding with the government's efforts to amend reform laws regarding elections, parties and decentralization.
According to the document, the number of seats in the House of Representatives will be reduced to 96, 48 of which will be distributed as follows: 12 seats for the national list (Closed-Proportional list), 12 for the governorates, 12 for the Badia and camps, and 12 for the women’s quota.
The other 48 parliamentary seats are allocated to electoral districts, distributed among all governorates, with 14 seats for the capital Amman, 11 for individual candidates, a seat for the women's quota, a seat for the governorate, and a seat for the camps.
Irbid governorate gets 10 seats, according to the document, including 7 for individual candidates, one for women's quota, one for the governorate, and one for the camps. While Zarqa governorate has 9 seats, with 6 for individual candidates, one for women's quota, one for the governorate, and one for the camps.
For his part, the Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, Musa Maaytah, said in an interview with a news site on November 7, 2018, that “There are no discussions about the amendment of the electoral law; the issue was not discussed at all and neither was any other issue related to the electoral law.” He pointed out that “the Ministry receives suggestions from some civil society organizations and political parties, but there are no discussions about the matter at this time”.
Akeed followed up on the material published this year regarding proposals submitted on electoral law and political parties the most recent of which was published in early October entitled “Future Party Prepares Bill Proposal for Political Parties”.
House of Representatives, high-level politicians, and political parties began discussing the amendments early this year. Discussions intensified in March, April and September as the central political parties and the Islah Parliamentary bloc (of the House of Representatives) requested amendments to the electoral law. The most important of which was the reduction of parliamentary seats, albeit with different proposed numbers.
The previous parliamentary elections were held on September 20, 2016, under a law entitled "proportional lists". Although it ended the "one vote" law adopted in the early 1990s, it was widely criticized for not representing the will of the voter in a realistic way.