„‚WHOOPS!‘ seems to be all aghast officials can say. On either side of the River Jordan, the Hashemite kingdom and the Palestinian Authority have called elections expecting easy wins. Instead, to their surprise, the local arms of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, have ended their boycotts of the ballot and are now the front-runners. The king’s men in Jordan anticipate that the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the brothers’ political arm in Jordan, will emerge from the general elections on September 20th as the largest single party. In adjacent Palestine, ministers speculate that Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot, might sweep all eight of the West Bank’s cities in municipal elections set for October 8th. (…)
The elections may be a barometer of popular sentiment, but they will have little real impact. In Jordan gerrymandering ensures that East Bank Bedouin get the lion’s share of seats. At best, says an IAF candidate, the Islamists will gain 25% of the seats. Moreover, King Abdullah prefers to rule through his security agencies and has clawed back most of the power parliament and the government once had. When legislators prove troublesome, he dissolves parliament and rules by decree.
In the West Bank Mr Abbas also rules by decree, having suspended parliament a decade ago and overrun his own mandate by seven years. Municipal elections have been a rare exception to this democratic deficit. Electoral billboards plaster the roadsides and, despite Hamas’s participation, Mr Abbas insists the vote will go ahead. But his police have jailed dozens of Islamist campaigners and he may yet look to Israel’s army, which occupies the West Bank, to annul the ballot for him.“
(The Economist über die bevorstehende Wahl in Jordanien und die palästinensischen Kommunalwahlen: „The ballot and the Book. On both sides of the Jordan river Islamists are tiptoeing back to elections“.)