A glance at Jordan's 84-year history of elections

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 09:45 hrs

Jordan's monarchy has touted Wednesday's parliamentary election as a watershed in the kingdom's democratization. It is the first after last year's constitutional amendments that see King Abdullah II gradually relinquishing much of his powers in running the daily affairs of the state to the legislature, although he will continue — for now — to set broader foreign and security policies.

Elections in the kingdom go back 84 years. But Jordan is a small country in a turbulent region and the ruling Hashemite dynasty has had a rocky relation with its parliaments: sometimes encouraging greater political openness to build greater support for state policies, at other times cracking down on legislatures it deems a threat.

Here are a few landmark dates in the history of Jordan's elections.

—February 1929: The state of Transjordan, created in 1921 under British protection in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire's collapse, holds its first elections for a mostly powerless legislative council.

—May 1946: The Kingdom of Transjordan is proclaimed after Britain grants the country limited independence. Elections a year later choose the kingdom's first parliament, but no opposition parties can run.

—December 1948: Transjordan annexes the West Bank and becomes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The country now has an ethnic Palestinian majority. Elections choose a body evenly divided between Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

—October 1956: With anti-colonialism on the rise throughout the Arab world, leftists take about half the seats in elections considered among Jordan's freest ever. But in April 1957, Jordan's Western-allied King Hussein suspends parliament for four years after an attempted leftist coup.

—June 1967: Jordan loses the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. There are no elections for 20 years due to the impossibility of holding a vote there. Martial law is declared.

—November 1974: Women gain the right to vote.

—July 31, 1988: Hussein renounces claims to the West Bank, paving the way for new elections and reforms.

—Nov. 8, 1989: Elections are held. Each voter can cast one ballot for an individual candidate and another for an electoral list. Islamists form the largest bloc in parliament.

—July 7, 1991: The king abolishes most provisions of martial law. In 1992, parties are allowed, and in 1993 press restrictions are lifted.

—November, 1993: New elections are held in which each voter has one vote. This angers the Brothers who say that the system favors local politicians with tribal ties rather than ideologically based lists. They win only a handful of seats and boycott the next elections.

—February 1999: King Hussein dies and his son ascends to the throne as Abdullah II. He promises to press ahead with reforms. Elections are held in 2003, 2007 and 2010, the last one boycotted again by the Islamists.

—Dec. 17, 2010: The Tunisian revolution breaks out, touching off the Arab Spring uprisings. Jordan sees protests, albeit peaceful and smaller than in other Arab countries. Mostly they call for more political openness rather than the abolition of the monarchy. King Abdullah vows to accelerate reforms.

—February 2011: The government removes restrictions on public gatherings. Parliament later authorizes Jordan's first constitutional court.

—January 2012: Street protests continue. Parliament amends the constitution to reduce the powers of the king in favor of the legislature. Abdullah also relinquishes his constitutional right to appoint prime ministers, allowing parliament to pick them.

—June 2012: Jordan enacts an electoral law. It is condemned by the main Islamist bloc, which again boycotts.

—October 2012: King Abdullah dismisses parliament half-way through its four-year term. The commission sets new elections for Jan. 23.

More from Sify: