Senate set to vote on reducing minimum age for Lower House candidates

The amendment, which has to pass with a two-thirds majority, would lower the minimum age to stand for parliamentary election from 30 to 25 years old. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Upper House of Parliament is expected to vote on Wednesday on a constitutional amendment, which was passed by the Lower House last week, reducing the minimum age required to run for the House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years.اضافة اعلان

Last week, 110 Lower House members out of 130 voted in favor reducing the minimum age of eligibility to run for Parliament, as a means to encourage Jordan’s youth to become more involved in local politics.

The amendment that reduces the minimum age required for electoral participation is item 16 of the Constitutional amendments debated by the MPs. The amendment essentially rephrases the text of Article 70 of the Constitution, so that it now reads, “a deputy must have completed 25 solar years of his age”, replacing the phrase “30 solar years of his age”.

A number of other constitutional mandates relating to the eligibility to run for parliamentary election remain unchanged, such as “no person shall become a senator or deputy who is not a Jordanian”, or “who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year for a non-political offense”, as stated by Article 75.

Senator Talal Shurafat told Jordan News that “just like the Lower House’s voting procedure, a two-thirds majority of the Upper House is needed for this amendment to proceed. If the Senate passes the amendments to Article 70, it would need a Royal decree to become officially enforced. This amendment was recommended by the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, as part of proposed changes affecting the Election Law.”

The minimum age to become a Senator is 40, and according to Shurafat, it is important for this requirement remains intact, “because Senate members should be experienced statesmen.”

There are good reasons to be optimistic about this particular amendment, according to MP Hayel Ayyash, who believes that these amendments are a positive step in the right direction for the youth. “Numerous other countries have created pathways that welcome their respective youth populations into the political process. Jordan is following that trajectory with these changes. The parliamentary participation of 25 year olds will inevitably make them more prepared for a future career in politics and public service.”

Ayyash stated that unemployment is the biggest issue facing Jordanian youth, which, he said, explains why many of them are leaving Jordan for other countries searching for work. “We do not encourage our youth to leave Jordan, and we need to solve the issue of youth unemployment in order to incentivize them to stay here.”

Compared to the 2016 parliamentary election turnout of 36 percent, the last parliamentary election of 2020 had a very low turnout of 29.9 percent, which was generally attributed to lack of interest by the youth in politics and in political parties; an attitude that is about to transform with the new amendment that allows young men and women aged 25 years to run for elections.

However, and aside from the various interpretations related to the 2020 low voters’ turnout, Chief Commissioner of the Independent Election Commission Khalid Kalaldeh had said that the outbreak of COVID-19 and restrictions on campaigning and grouping, as well as fear of infections constituted a massive blow to people’s enthusiasm about the ballot boxes.

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