Jordanians go to polls to choose lawmakers
LOS ANGELES TIMES
AMMAN, Jordan -- Polls closed in Jordan on Wednesday night in elections that King Abdullah II called part of a major governmental reform initiative but that opposition parties boycotted as offering insufficient change.
The state news agency said that at least 56 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the election for the 150-member lower house of parliament. Results were expected Thursday.
Abdullah touted Wednesday's election as the centerpiece of his reformist agenda, an answer to street protests in his own nation and the wave of popular uprisings that swept the Middle East. But opposition parties and activists groups dismissed changes in the election law as superficial.
Even some loyal to Abdullah acknowledge that Wednesday's election perpetuates a voting system that gives a disproportion number of seats in parliament to areas loyal to the monarch over those populated by Palestinian citizens. The king's promise of picking his Cabinet in consultation with the parliament has been widely derided by voters and observers as a fiction.
"The real issue is that decision-making is very narrow and completely centralized -- between Abdullah and the intelligence services," said the U.S.-based Atlantic Council think tank in a report released last week.