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‘2016 polls quite good, but there is room for improvement’

EU observers say nothing is dictated to Jordan on how to run election process

By Raed Omari - Sep 20,2018 - Last updated at Sep 20,2018

AMMAN — The 2016 parliamentary election was in overall "quite good", EU’s Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Jordan said.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Chief Observer of the EU EOM 2016 Jo Leinen said that the latest parliamentary polls were “in general well-administered and inclusive with sound mechanisms”, stressing that the mission is “not imposing anything on Jordan” but has offered a number of recommendations to further consolidate the process and render it consistent with international standards.

The EU EOM said it was deployed to Jordan on August 13, 2016, upon an invitation from the Independent Election Commission (IEC).  The mission said it fielded 108 observers from all the 28 EU member states, in addition to Canada, Norway and Switzerland. The observers were stationed in various locations across the governorates to assess the entire electoral process in terms of its conformity with democratic practices as well as relevant domestic laws. 

In December 2016, the EU EOM published a final report assessing the 2016 election, which included a set of recommendations meant as a tool to enhance future electoral processes.  An Election Follow-up Mission (EU EFM), also led by Leinen, was deployed in the Kingdom with the main objective of assessing the progress made in electoral reforms since the release of the final report in 2016.

The chief observer stressed that the EU’s assistance to Jordan is “not linked to the implementation of the recommendations listed in the report”, saying that the union’s support aims at boosting the Kingdom’s stability and alleviating its burdens ensuing from the refugee influx.

“A stable and prosperous Jordan is in the interest of the EU,” Leinen, a member of the European Parliament, said.   

As 70 per cent of Jordan’s population is under 30, the report suggested that the age requirement for membership in the Lower House be lowered from 30 to 25 years so as to expand the youth’s participation in the decision-making process and engagement in the country’s politics. 

The EU EOM also recommended that more measures be taken towards empowering women and increasing their presence in the decision making circles.  

“The right to vote and to stand should ensure the freedom of choice of both voter and candidate. Consideration could be given to reviewing the election legislation to ensure that any limitations on the freedom of the voters’ place of registration or as regards district of candidacy is not limited on discriminatory grounds such as ethnicity or descent,” the report said.

The EU EOM also recommended that the state-owned media outlets act as a public service. “Therefore, extensive coverage of campaign activities by electoral contestants is expected to be included in news programmes and bulletins by the national radio and television, in order to help voters make an informed choice on election day.”

To achieve transparency and enhance public confidence, the mission also recommended the adoption of measures, employing existing technological capacities, to ensure the timely publication of full preliminary and final polling station results within a clearly specified deadline and in any event no later than the declaration of final results

“Two years after the 2016 election, it is for the Jordanian authorities to prioritise the aspects of the electoral framework which merit further attention and address citizens’ interests. In this respect, we encourage all the stakeholders, in particular the IEC, to propose timely changes so the amendments can be finalised well in advance of the next election. This will help the population and all other stakeholders to become familiar with the revised election law and participate in the democratic life of their country. Active involvement of young Jordanians will also be very important,” the chief observer said.



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