Jordan. The royal house strengthened its power by a new electoral law, which came into force in May, and by securing the majority of the mandate in the new parliamentary elections on November 9. The election was held after a year of direct royal rule since King Abdullah dissolved the former parliament in November 2009. The new electoral law meant a new system of constituencies that disadvantaged the cities, where most residents have a Palestinian background and are traditionally critical of the king’s domination.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Jordan has a population of 9.956 million (2018). The country’s main opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, which is the political branch of the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, boycotted the election with reference to the new electoral law. After a power struggle between moderate Islamists, who wanted to focus on domestic politics, and more hard-working politicians who wanted to push the cause of the Palestinians, in June the party had a new leader, the moderate Hamzah Mansour. The election debate was about the boycott but also about the country’s economic problems. The budget deficit was USD 2 billion and in August the country’s external debt was USD 11 billion, almost 60 percent of GDP. Most of the mandates were won by candidates loyal to the king, but an Islamist candidate who had not obeyed the boycott also came into parliament. International elections over watchers meant that the election was relatively fair, but criticized the electoral law. According to official figures, turnout was 53 percent but this was questioned by the opposition.
In October, the American human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the arrest of 18 members of the opposition Party Popular Unit who had demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the arrest of some 30 young people who had demonstrated in support of the Islamic campaign front’s boycott.
A man was killed on August 2 when a rocket, of all judgments fired from Egypt and destined for an Israeli target in Eilat, struck in the Jordanian city of Aqaba on the Red Sea. Also in April, several short-range missiles landed in Aqaba but then without causing anything other than material damage.