Jordanians voted a new parliament on January 23 after the dissolution of the 2010 parliament in October last year. Despite King Abdullah’s calls for participating in the elections, the vote was boycotted by several opposition groups, including the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the country’s main Islamist opposition party, which is affiliated with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The official voter turnout was quite high, at almost 57% (up from 53% in 2010), a figure that was challenged by the IAF. The latter party attributed its boycott of the vote to the lack of political reforms. At the end of last year, nationwide protests were witnessed as a reaction to increased fuel prices. These resulted from a reduction in energy subsidies which had become too burdensome for the government’s budget as the supply of favourably priced Egyptian gas was heavily disrupted and international energy prices remained at a high level in the past years. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border since the start of the conflict in Syria are being hosted in Jordan, which is putting additional social and economic pressure on the country.

Impact on country risk

Jordan is currently going through turbulent times, witnessing significant (domestic and external) political and economic pressures.  Despite the introduction of some reforms as a reaction to the revolutions in the region (including the reduction of some of the King’s powers, a new election law and the establishment of an independent electoral commission), opposition continues the call for more genuine political reforms. The IAF’s absence in parliament is likely to make it more difficult for the government to address the broad challenges the country faces in a consensual way. Meanwhile, the monarchy does not seem threatened, as its removal does not seem  among the opposition’s demands for more political reforms.

Analyst: The Risk Management Team, r.cecchi@credendogroup.com