Egypt Brotherhood Victory Emboldens Jordanian Counterpart

Article Summary
The Muslim Brotherhood’s recent electoral success in Egypt has emboldened its Jordanian counterpart, writes Tamer al-Smadi. As the Islamist opposition gains steam in Jordan, the government of King Abdullah is looking on warily. The latest point of contention between the two sides is the controversial one-man, one-vote electoral law.

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood never expected its mother organization to one day hold the Egyptian presidency.

Hundreds of public figures flocked to the Jordanian Brotherhood's headquarters to offer their congratulations after the fortunate turn of events that led to the presidential election victory of the Egyptian Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.

The Jordanian Brotherhood could not hide its euphoria over its "spiritual authority’s" overwhelming victory. Hammam Said, the head of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, ecstatically stated in front of the visitors: "Our happiness about Morsi's victory emphasizes the nation's longing for a ruler whose actions resemble those of Caliph Omar bin Abdul Aziz!" Taking it further, the Jordanian group rushed to form a delegation of about 100 people to travel to Cairo to congratulate the organization's members in person for a seemingly unexpected victory.

A state of "hysteria” was felt within the ranks of the Brotherhood. However, the organization's officials seemed to be more cautious, deeply thinking of the "radical" changes that are taking place in Egypt.

According to official sources, Jordanian decision-making centers are deeply working out how to deal with the fact that the new Egyptian president is from the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, it is the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that has been leading protests in the country for over a year.

According to information leaked from within official circles, the relationship between the two parties will largely depend on common interests, especially considering that Jordan is reliant on preferential pricing of Egyptian gas.

Morsi's victory was followed by questions from observers who wondered if his election would lead to a reshuffling of domestic politics. These questions are even more salient now that the hypotheses regarding the Arab Spring's end and the continued survival of the Syrian regime have proven to be erroneous, just like the theory that the movements are regressing. This was confirmed by the researcher and political analyst Mohammed Abu Rumman.

According to a prominent political figure, Morsi's victory may lead [Jordan] to reconsider its recent stance toward the Islamists in the upcoming elections. In fact, the Jordanian Brotherhood had alluded to boycotting the elections in protest against the adoption of a parliamentary election law that is highly similar to the “one man, one vote” law.

But on June 28, Jordan's King Abdullah II took the initiative and asked both the government and parliament to review the law. Some decision-makers called on the King to revoke the law in order to keep the door open for a possible resolution [to the electoral law crisis] that does not involve returning to the squares or boycotting the elections.

According to official sources, the decision-makers did this because they believe that more protests and boycotts would pave the way for a new political crisis. However, active forces within the government were calling for the immediate ratification of the law without succumbing to what they deemed "an Islamist blackmail.”

According to Abu Rumman, “The effect of Morsi’s victory on the Jordanian Islamic movement’s options, coupled with the recent opposition to the election law, may be significant to the higher-level decision makers should they decide to analyze it thoroughly.”

Political analyst and writer Fahd Khitan said that Jordan’s relationship with Egypt’s new rulers will differ from what it has previously been. He added that many powers consider the current phase in Egypt to be a transitional period because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is contesting the new president’s powers.

At Jordan’s domestic level, Khitan said: “Morsi’s victory granted Jordanian Islamists additional momentum, and the state is well aware of this fact.”

The analyst confirms that the developments in Egypt “may re-shuffle the political game at the domestic level. Decision-makers may refer the election law to parliament for reconsideration, in order to reach an official and political consensus.”

“The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood hinted that they will boycott the upcoming elections if the controversial electoral law remains unchanged. The decision to boycott the elections is not final, should the state proceed to complete a law that reflects the protesters’ demands,” said Khitan.

According to researcher Mohamed al-Masri, the current Egyptian political scene “is creating a state of confusion for Jordan and other neighboring countries. A president was elected in the largest and greatest Arab country. Those who were once behind bars now hold the reins of power.” Masri believes that today, Jordan is at an impasse with the Brotherhood, which represents a solid opposition. There is a constant tug-of-war between the Brotherhood and the regime, and Masri does not know whether Egypt’s election results will change the rules of this game.

The researcher also believes that Jordan will have the opportunity to play more significant roles in the region, as it has established a special relationship with the West. Regarding its relations with Israel, Masri said that since Egypt has yet to assign an ambassador to Israel or established relations with it, Jordan will use this as an excuse to justify its [relations with the country].

On Tuesday [June 26], Jordan’s parliament passed a parliamentary election law, which sparked controversy between pro-government supporters and the opposition. The opposition considered the law as a coup within the state on political reform.

During the discussions of the law, which is comprised of 72 articles, the parliamentarians refused to review article 8. This article outlines the one man-one vote formula in constituencies that include multiple representatives. However, the parliamentarians agreed to grant a second voice in favor of a national list that is composed of 17 MPs out of the total 140 MPs. This total was recently increased from 120.

The opposition bloc — and the Islamic movement in particular — is demanding an electoral law that would produce elected parliamentary governments while abolishing the controversial one vote law, which has been in force since the 1990’s.

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the 2010 elections, reasoning that the government “did not provide any guarantees of its integrity.” In the 2007 elections, the Brotherhood accused the government of “fraud,” and opposed the one vote law.

Since January, protests in Jordan have demanded comprehensive political and economic reforms to combat corruption.

Found in: muslim brotherhood, muslim, jordanian regime, jordanian parliament, jordanian muslim brotherhood, islamist movement in jordan, islamist, egyptian elections

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