King Abdullah II, seeking to diffuse a standoff with the Muslim Brotherhood over changes in the current election law that would allow for less independent opposition seats within the parliament, urged the group’s political wing to join the reform process.
In an interview with Jordan TV on Saturday, the king specifically mentioned the Brotherhood and its political wing, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), calling on the group and other opposition members to “take part in this reform process and participate in the legislative elections to reach parliamentary governments.”
Opposition parties in Jordan were furious at the law endorsed by parliament which grants Jordanian voters two votes, one for a local candidate and another for a political party affiliated candidate from a closed proportional representation list.
The king ordered Jordan’s parliament to hold an ‘extraordinary’ session in order to amend the controversial election law on 27 June after the IAF, as well as other opposition groups, announced they planned to boycott the Jordanian parliamentary elections scheduled for 2 December.
Groups opposed to the law have taken to the street to protest several times over the past month. Some of the protests demanded dissolving the current parliament, the Jordan Times reported.
At the national level, the proportional representation allows for 12 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives to be filled by opposition candidates, which amounts to only 17 of the 140 seats in Jordan’s lower house of parliament.
All members of the upper house of parliament, the Senate, are appointed by the king.
Opposition groups are demanding the right to contest for 50 percent of seats in the House of Representative, or 70 of the 140 available seats.
The king reiterated in the interview he wanted to reform the entire process of government and had taken steps to do so over the past few months.
“The ultimate goal of reforms is representative and responsible parliamentary governments based on the presence of political parties and constructive opposition, who will form parliamentary blocs that will, in turn, play effectively and efficiently their role in the formation of coming government,” he said.
The king’s move is an effort to diffuse public scrutiny the Jordanian government has faced recently.
Massive protests erupted earlier this month in response to austerity measures passed by the government that resulted in skyrocketing prices of electricity and fuel.