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In Jordan, Islamists try to spin popular protests into political uprising

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In addition to lowering taxes, the opposition has called for a new elections law based on proportional representation, electoral redistricting, even proposing constitutional reforms to have the position of prime minister selected by the people, rather than the king.

“Our message is that political reform is the key to fixing all social and economic problems. We need a new unity government and early elections for a democratically elected parliament representing the people that can handle these challenges,” said Muslim Brotherhood Spokesman Jamil Abu Baker.

Jordanian decisionmakers have made no indications of enacting the political reforms demanded by activists and protesters, resisting calls to dismiss Prime Minister Samir Rifai or dissolve the parliament, counting on populist economic measures as enough to ride out the Tunisia effect.

Economic unrest

Few took notice on Jan. 7, when 200 public-sector workers took to the streets in a village south of Amman over the rising cost of living. Without the participation of political parties or trade unions, the event did not even garner a mention in local newspapers.

Emboldened by the toppling of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the impromptu street protest grew into nationwide “days of anger,” with thousands of Jordanians hitting the streets.

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