Polls bring Jordan’s Brotherhood back to parliament

The recent electoral successes of the National Alliance for Reform electoral list — which includes candidates from Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood — means the group will return to Jordan’s political stage after an eight-year absence, according to analysts, reported Anadolu Agency.

On Tuesday, the alliance — which includes nationalist, Christian and Circassian candidates, along with Brotherhood figures — clinched 18 seats in parliament, according to initial results.

“After a hiatus of more than two parliamentary rounds [8 years], Islamists are set to return to Jordan’s parliament,” Kazem Ayesh, a former member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, told Anadolu Agency.

With 18 out of 130 seats, the alliance is set to become one of the largest opposition blocs in the assembly, especially considering the absence of other opposition forces, Mohamed al-Zayoud, secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front (the Brotherhood’s political arm), said.

The Brotherhood had boycotted the last two parliamentary polls to protest Jordan’s “one vote” law, which last year was replaced by a system of electoral lists.

“This represents a fresh opportunity for the Islamists to return to the political scene via the legislature,” Amer al-Sabaylah, a Jordanian political analyst, told Anadolu Agency.

“Now they will be able to establish a presence on parliamentary committees and participate in decision-making after a long absence,” he said.

Mohamed al-Sharaa, a political science professor at Jordan’s Yarmouk University and a former MP, described the Brotherhood’s return to Jordan’s political scene as a “positive development”.

“The Brotherhood’s participation [in the elections] will serve the public interest and allow the group to influence political decision-making,” al-Sharaa told Anadolu Agency.

“Despite the limited number of seats they won, it will give them a significant presence in parliament and allow them to play an active political role,” he said.

However, Hassan Abu Hanieh, a political analyst and expert, said it was unlikely that the Brotherhood’s return to parliament would serve to improve the group’s relationship with the Jordanian authorities.

“The Jordanian government will not stop pressuring the group to change its discourse with a view to bringing it in line with the government’s political orientations,” he said.

Abu Hanieh’s assertions come despite the Brotherhood’s recent efforts to “rebrand” itself — the most obvious manifestation of which was its decision to drop its traditional slogan, “Islam is the solution”.

Abu Hanieh believes that the parliamentary seats clinched by the Brotherhood remain “symbolic”.

“I do not expect a good relationship between the Brotherhood and the government as the latter is pursuing a patient strategy that aims to fragmentize the group,” he said.

With the breakout of the Arab Spring revolutions across the Arab region in late 2010, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood witnessed splits, with group dissidents forming a parallel organization.

The mainstream group deemed the move as a coup against its legitimacy, especially after the Jordanian government granted the breakaway entity an operating license in March 2015.