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Islamist Opposition Party Alleges Fraud After Jordanian Election Setback

The results of Jordan's parliamentary election show the main opposition Islamist party has lost nearly two-thirds of its seats. The party is complaining of fraud and vote-buying, but the government says the election was fair. VOA's Challiss McDonough has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

Official results showed that the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, won only six of the 110 seats in parliament. The party ran 22 candidates. The Islamic Action Front held 17 seats in the last parliament, but this time failed to win even in its traditional stronghold of Zarqa. Islamic Action Front leaders claimed there were signs of fraud and vote-rigging.

The interior minister vehemently denied allegations of fraud and said the elections had been impartial and fair.

Islamic Action Front governing council member and former leader Hamza Mansour said the party is still evaluating the individual results before it decides what action to take.

He says the loser is not the Islamic Action Front party, but the Jordanian nation, which he says was deprived of free and just elections.

Most of the seats were won by tribal candidates and businessmen with close ties to the government.

Analyst Oraib al-Rantawi of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies says the Islamic Action Front was divided before the election and ran a weaker campaign than it has in the past.

He also points to the rising influence of wealthy business owners who poured a lot of money into their campaigns, managing in some cases to unseat some influential veteran politicians.

"I think this is a starting point for a new phenomenon in our forthcoming elections," said Oraib al-Rantawi. "I think the role of businessmen, the role of what is called in Jordan 'the political money', will be a serious role in our forthcoming elections, and I think the competition now will be not fair enough, especially for those who have ideas and the programs, but they do not have enough money to run the elections."

He complains that many of this new business elite campaigned in the polls without serious political platforms or ideas. He is not convinced that their role in politics will be positive, and advocates changing the electoral law to strengthen Jordan's political parties and civic groups.

One new development in this election was the first-ever victory by a female candidate in an open district, not one of the seats reserved for women or minorities. Seven women were elected to parliament, six of them under the quota system that was introduced in 2003. But one woman, Falaka al-Jamaani, won her seat outright this time, defeating several male candidates.