(MENAFN - Arab News) With just three days left ahead of Jordanian parliamentary elections, King Abdallah and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party the Islamic Action Front (IAC), who are boycotting the election, are on a collision course ahead of the vote.
After failing to attract the Islamist movement to run in the polls, which he promotes as fruit of the Arab Spring, King Abdallah this week appeared to have given up on the IAC. The king accused them of seeking to establish a "religious dictatorship" and said he didn't trust the Islamists.
"I am not worried about the Islamists winning in the elections. I am worried about pluralism and an exchange of power" that might result from such a victory, Abdallah said in a Jan. 13 interview with the French magazine L'Observoire. He also expressed concern about how much change such a victory would bring to the country.
Jordanian officials point out that the Jan. 23 elections will lead to the creation of the country's first parliamentary government. The king would name a prime minister to form a government that includes members of Parliament, and retain the right to name and dismiss the prime minister.
Jordan elects its Parliament every four years to choose 150 MPs in the lower house, while the king appoints the upper house with 50 senators forming the legislative authority. It remains unclear how many MPs would join the new government, but lists of candidates show former officials and businessmen leading the race in the absence of powerful opposition.
Over the past two years, Abdallah endorsed amendments to the constitution, including that the king can sack the Parliament only once in four years and the government must resign after parliamentary elections, and he established an independent electoral committee that promised fair and free elections.
However, the Islamists want quick reforms including trimming the king's powers, separation between authorities to shield judicial authority and the Parliament from government interference, and a fair elections law.
The Islamist movement said this week it plans to organize a major rally in downtown Amman against the elections, but vowed not to hold protests on election day, a sign it might not be acting as strongly as expected.
The highly publicized polls are expected to do little to defuse tension between maneuvering authorities and stubborn opposition, said political analyst and researcher Mohammed Imran.
"Jordan will remain in the same place as two years ago, when the Arab Spring started. The kingdom is headed to the unknown in such a situation," argues Imran.
Islamist movement opponents say the group's bark is bigger than its bite, accusing Shoura Council President Abdul Latif Arabiyat, IAF party leader Hamza Mansour and other senior Islamists of failing to live up to their status as the biggest opposition party in the kingdom.