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Jordan held its first-ever local elections on Aug. 15, including provincial councils, municipal councils, local councils, mayoralties, and the Amman Secretariat, which governs the capital.The structure of the two laws overseeing this decentralization has generated public skepticism – which was reflected in the low voter turnout, reported at 32 percent – as to whether these elections will lead to a real devolution of power from the central government.Municipal councils and mayors used to be appointed by the Cabinet.The Municipalities Law, which oversees both municipal councils and "local councils" for areas smaller than a municipality, delegates similar limited legislative powers to local authorities as in the Decentralization Law. One key feature is that Article 3, governing the Amman Secretariat, grants the Cabinet the right to appoint the mayor (or more literally, "secretary-general") of Amman and 25 percent of council members, the other 75 percent of whom are elected. Thus the "powers" delegated to local officials may make them little more than local advisory councils.According to Murad Adaileh, head of the NCR's election office, it won 41 of 88 contested local council seats and 25 of 48 contested provincial council seats.The government-aligned Muslim Center Party, the NCR's primary rival, claimed 33 seats, including three mayoralties, five seats in the Amman Secretariat, 16 municipal council seats, and nine in the provincial or local councils.
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