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House accepts Senate’s change to elections bill

By Raed Omari - Mar 06,2016 - Last updated at Mar 06,2016

AMMAN — The Lower House on Sunday endorsed the Upper House’s amendments to the 2015 elections law, the last in a reform-oriented legislative package.

With the MPs’ acceptance of senators’ amendments, the law will constitutionally be sent to His Majesty King Abdullah for ratification and then will be published in the Official Gazette if endorsed.

The Senate made the amendment to Article 66 of the bill to resolve any expected case of vacancies in the current seats of the Lower House's after the draft law is put into force by keeping the provisions under which the current House was elected valid until the end of its mandate, for whatever reason.

After the suggested amendment, Article 66 stipulates that “the Elections Law for the Lower House No.25 for 2012 will be cancelled but its provisions will still be valid until they are replaced with the provisions of the new law, and will remain in force until the mandate of the current House expires for whatever reason”.

Under this amendment, all procedures and regulations under which the current Lower House was elected will remain valid even after the cancellation of the 2012 elections law with the publication of the new law. 

On February 21, the Lower House passed the 2015 parliamentary elections bill with minor changes following six marathon sessions.

The notorious one-person, one-vote electoral system, which was introduced in 1993, is now history, under the version of the law adopted by both Houses. The bill is based on an at-large voting system, in which candidates can run for parliamentary elections on one large multi-member ticket.

The number of Lower House members was reduced to 130 from 150 under the 2015 elections bill, which is based on the open proportional list at the level of the governorate/constituency.

Under Article 9 of the 68-article law, eligible voters will have a number of votes equal to the number of seats allocated for their district in the Lower House. 

During the elections, each eligible voter has to vote for a multi-member list as a whole and for individual candidate of their choice from the same ticket.

Under the 2012 law, on the basis of which the 2013 parliamentary elections were held, each voter was given two votes: one for a candidate at the district level and another for a closed proportional list that competed for 27 seats at the national level.

The House endorsed a provision dividing the Kingdom into 23 electoral districts, one for each of the 12 governorates, except for Amman, which was split into five districts, Irbid into four and Zarqa into two, while each of the three Badia districts (northern, central and southern) was considered a governorate for the purposes of the bill at hand.

The draft law allocates 115 seats for the constituencies and 15 seats for a women’s quota: one seat for each governorate and one seat for each Badia district.

 

With the endorsement of the bill, all political reform-oriented laws are now completed, after three key pieces of legislation have been passed, namely the Political Parties Law, Decentralisation Law and Municipalities Law. 

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