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Election posters in Amman. Photo: Laith Al-jnaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Amman — Jordanians went to the polls on Tuesday to vote for members of their only elected body, the House of Representatives.

Driving the news: The pandemic contributed to a very low turnout of 30%, down from an already low 37% at the last elections in 2016.

  • The big winners were candidates representing tribes in addition to pro-government candidates. Candidates from left-wing, progressive and nationalist lists fared badly.
  • The Islamic Action Front, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, was only able to win seven seats, down from 15 in 2016.
  • No female candidates won outright, only taking the 15 seats allotted to women under a quota system.
  • Many well-known politicians were unable to win a return to parliament.

Why it matters: The failure of any single list or party to win a significant share of seats will further strengthen the Royal Palace and the government, which will be able to govern freely and rebuff any attempts to obstruct its policies. It's a good result for the king and the security forces.

  • The elections were overseen by the Independent Election Commission, established after the Arab Spring. The constitution still gives the king the power to appoint the prime minister, Senate and judges.

As soon as polls closed, Jordanians were ordered to stay home for four days of lockdown to help flatten the coronavirus curve. The order came under emergency defense orders that have been in effect since March.  

  • The COVID-19 situation has also rapidly deteriorated over the last three months after Jordan kept cases and deaths low during the initial outbreak.
  • Jordan, a country of 10 million, recently recorded a daily record 5,877 cases — one of the highest per capita rates in the world.

What to watch: Jordan’s elections are taking place at a time of regional uncertainty due to the efforts of the Trump administration to push Arab countries into normalizing relations with Israel.

  • While Jordan was the second Arab country to sign a peace treaty for Israel, in 1994, it is also a strong supporter of the Arab Peace Initiative, which made future Arab normalization with Israel contingent on Palestinian statehood.

Worth noting: Jordan is strategically important to the United States, and it's the recipient of $1.25 billion in annual U.S. aid under an agreement signed by the Trump administration in 2018.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - World

Israel's COVID crisis deepens even as the vaccination rate climbs

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters clash with security forces over lockdown enforcement Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had hoped to declare victory over the pandemic before the elections on March 23, but new fast-spreading variants of COVID-19 have dashed those hopes.

Why it matters: Netanyahu's main political vulnerability is his handling of the pandemic. He has acknowledged that his poll numbers will be directly connected to the rates of vaccinations, new infections and deaths, as well as his ability to reopen the economy.

Jan 27, 2021 - World

Scoop: Sudan wants to seal Israel normalization deal at White House

Burhan. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it still hasn't signed an agreement to formally do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House.

Driving the news: Israel sent Sudan a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations several weeks ago, but the Sudanese didn’t reply, the officials say. On Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen raised that issue in Khartoum during the first-ever visit of an Israeli minister to Sudan.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 mins ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."