UNDP Supports the IEC in Conducting Successful Elections in JordanJul 20, 2016
Jordan today is busy preparing for the upcoming Parliamentary Elections which will take place on the 20th of September 2016. The call for the election of a new parliament came about after a period of significant political developments, which included His Majesty King Abdullah II dissolving the Lower House of Parliament and the formation of a new cabinet led by Prime Minister Hani Mulqi. A key stated responsibility of the new cabinet was to facilitate the work of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) towards administering a successful national poll.
Recent electoral developments in Jordan
The 2013 Parliamentary Elections were the first elections to be overseen by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) following its establishment in 2012. While voter turnout in that election was low, with only 56% of registered voters (42% of eligible voters) exercising their right to vote, there were, however, some important improvements during this time in terms of women's representation within government. This included 15 parliamentary seats being reserved for women and the quota for women's representation in municipal councils being increased from 20 to 25%. A total of 18 women were elected to parliament in 2013.
Since then, Jordan has continued to witness significant political transformations and electoral reforms. In 2014, for example, new constitutional amendments were adopted expanding the mandate of the IEC to administer municipal elections. In 2015, the government proposed a new electoral system, which adopted open list proportional representation in governorate-sized districts and reduced the number of parliamentary seats to 130. The new system replaced the previous one-person-one-vote system and should improve the representation of large urban areas. A new Municipalities Law was also endorsed by Parliament in August 2015, which established a new structure for municipal governance, including the establishment of directly elected "Local Councils" within each municipality. While municipal mayors will continue to be directly elected, "Municipal Councils" will be composed of representatives from Local Councils and will, therefore, be indirectly elected.
UNDP's Support to the IEC
The work of the UNDP is guided in part by goal 17 of the Global Goals by promoting participation, accountability, and effectiveness at all levels through its different programmes.
In 2015, the Jordanian government launched “Jordan 2025” - a long-term 10-year vision for the Kingdom's social and economic development. The vision’s goal is to improve welfare and social services provided to Jordanians and to bridge the gap between governorates.
UNDP continues to be a leading actor in several governance related areas in Jordan, including preparations for the upcoming elections. Through the support of the European Union, the UNDP has worked with the IEC since its establishment to reinforce the Commission's capacities to better deliver its mandated function of conducting fair and transparent elections. UNDP's support has included technical and advisory assistance to the IEC in setting up its internal structures, operations, communication systems and recruitment processes. This support also covered the critical area of creating a voter registration database, which will help streamline the pre-election process, reduce voting fraud, and generate accurate data for election management.
UNDP has also sought to bolster the IECs capacities to communicate its work to the Jordanian public, through a new IEC website for example, and to assist the IEC in playing its part in educating citizens about the significant changes that had occurred to the way voters cast their ballots through the adoption of a new Elections Law. This effort included the UNDP supporting the production of a series of short public awareness TV and radio spots about different aspects of the new law. These spots were launched as part of the IEC's "Know your law" campaign and have been widely disseminated through social media and national TV and radio.
UNDP continues to also support the democratic process in Jordan beyond the IEC and has extended support to parliament and public administrators to protect the rights of people with disabilities, minorities, and other vulnerable groups. The UNDP is also encouraging the Higher Council for Youth to collaborate with the private sector and civil society and to harness youth innovation for political participation in local governance.