JORDAN PARLIAMENT ELECTION.jpg
Jordanian election workers count voters cards after the completion of voting at a polling station for the parliamentary elections in Amman, Jordan, 20 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/JAMAL NASRALLAH

Just under 1.5 million Jordanians cast their ballots Tuesday in the country's 18th round of parliamentary polls, the first contested by all opposition groups under a new electoral law, the Independent Elections Commission said.

Polling stations opened at 7 am local time (4 GMT) and were scheduled to close at 7 pm (1600 GMT). However, voting was extended by one hour in 15 out of the 23 constituencies, commission spokesman Jihad Momani said at a press conference.  

The counting of ballots has begun and final results are expected in the coming days.

About four million Jordanians above the age of 17 were eligible to vote.

The return of the opposition to Jordanian polls is perhaps the most significant factor of this election.

The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood group competed in 2007, but boycotted the polls in the 2010 and 2013 rounds, arguing the electoral system was unfair. Its chances going into the polls this time were unclear.

More than 1,200 candidates were on 226 lists competing for 130 parliamentary seats, 15 of them are allocated for women, at least one from each province. Another nine seats are kept for Christians, while three more are kept for Circassian and Chechen minorities.

The vote took place based on a new electoral system. Previously, voters could only cast one vote for one candidate. Now they will vote for a list then cast ballots for multiple candidates within that list.

Jordanians last held general elections in January 2013, when 56.6 per cent of the electorate turned out.

Elections this year came amid regional turmoil as well as challenges suffered by Jordan. The ongoing civil war in neighbouring Syria has taken its toll on the country's economy as the mostly desert kingdom hosts almost 1.5 million Syrian refugees. 

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