Published January 23, 2013
AMMAN, Jordan – Here are some facts and figures on Jordan's parliamentary election, being held on Wednesday:
THE SYSTEM: The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the two-chamber Parliament, is elected once every four years. But the king dissolved the previous parliament last year, halfway through its term, under pressure from street protesters who accused the legislature of being docile.
The Chamber of Notables, or the Upper House, is comprised of 75 members appointed by the king.
The 150-seat lower house approves laws and monitors government performance. But the king, who still enjoys significant powers under the constitution, can dissolve parliament and rule by decree.
ELECTORATE: About 2.3 million of 3.3 million eligible voters are registered to vote. Of the total registered voters, 52 percent are women in a country of nearly 6 million. Around 500,000 military, police and security personnel are not allowed to vote. By tradition, the royal family doesn't vote.
POLITICAL GROUPS: Eighteen small and fractured political parties — a mix of right, center, left and Islamist leaning — are fielding candidates on a joint party ballot.
Other candidates — also a mix of right, center, left and Islamist leaning — are running as independents.
Five other licensed groups, including the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the largest and most organized opposition group, are boycotting the polls. The Islamic Action Front boycotted the polls two other times since 1997. This time, however, two party members broke ranks with the group and are running as independents. The four other groups boycotting include are communists and Arab nationalists.
THE CANDIDATES: 1,425 candidates, including 191 women and about 139 former lawmakers, are running — many of them as independents, counting on their tribal affiliations and family connections. Nine seats are reserved for Christians, who make up about 4 percent of the population. Another three seats are reserved for the Chechen and Circassian minorities; and fifteen are designated for women in line with a quota under the election law of 2012.
Additionally, there are 61 lists — each with up to 27 members — fielded by political parties and small coalitions comprising trade and labor unionist and other activists.
THE ISSUES: Campaigning has focused on poverty, unemployment, corruption, rising food and fuel prices, health care and education, civil liberties, interference by the powerful security services in lives of citizens, public participation in decision-making and women's rights. Other issues include Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and the Syrian civil war.
VOTING HOURS: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time (0400 GMT to 1600 GMT); can be extended by two hours. Nearly 1,500 polling stations begin counting when polls close, with early results expected on Thursday.
VOTING SYSTEM: Universal suffrage. Voters mark their ballots to choose one candidate from a list of contestants in their constituency and another from nationwide lists.
FORMING CABINETS: The party winning a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament will consult with other blocs and independents to pick a prime minister, who will then be approved by a vote of deputies. This will be the first time the chamber picks its own prime minister, as opposed to the traditional method where one has been appointed by the king. The prime minister will then choose his Cabinet, whose members can either be serving lawmakers or politicians from outside parliament. All Cabinet members must win a subsequent parliamentary vote of confidence before they are formally installed.