Recession? What recession? Jordan’s election candidates keep on spending

Published January 20th, 2013 - 10:13 GMT

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Image 1 of 8: Adnan Abu Rakbeh was unable to meet us after being arrested for alleged vote-buying. Although his team muttered about conspiracy, they did claim 12,000 “guaranteed” votes. “The cost doesn’t matter. What matters is to win”, spokesman Zaki told us.

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Image 1 of 8: Despite their candidate residing in a jail cell for vote-buying, Adnan Abu Rakbeh’s team had no qualms about showing off their wealth. Tower blocks of loudspeakers and fully-costumed waiting staff surrounded the gigantic tent.

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Image 1 of 8: You can’t have a campaign without a giant water cooler truck. Suleiman al Meleety, candidate for Madaba made sure his voters didn’t go thirsty. His “family” of 950 members “make it easy for him”, his son Saif told us.

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Image 1 of 8: Inside Suleiman’s tent they served Mansaf and Kanafeh for anyone prepared to vote in their candidate. The wasteland of trash on the fields outside was testament to the campaign’s ‘generosity’.

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Image 1 of 8: Osama al-Hiyajneh, candidate for New Zarqa, was a “man of the people”, according to his campaign manager, Ibrahim. But despite appealing to the poor vote, he used fireworks and lavish platters of sweets to accompany events he called “festivals”.

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Image 1 of 8: Slumming it with the people: Jordan’s election candidates have mostly been in parliament for two or three terms already but felt no need to take austerity measures with their tents despite an ongoing recession in the Kingdom.

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Image 1 of 8: Ahmad Safadi, Amman, was yet another candidate facing jail time for alleged vote-buying. Brother Ghasan was keen to dismiss the charges although in his tent he admitted “we don’t discuss politics here”.

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Image 1 of 8: No election tent is complete without kanafeh sweets as social media manager and daughter of Abed al-Rahim Boucai, candidate for Amman, Rasha, told us: “I’ve gained two kilos since the start of the campaign” she said.

Jordan: a country where over 13% of the population live below the poverty line and gas price increases recently sparked mass protests across the Kingdom.

The financial crisis has hit deep into the pockets of the ordinary Jordanian but not so for the politicians running the country, apparently.

With elections looming, candidates have been out in force, setting up their palace-like tents and serving lavish platters of food to anyone prepared to vote for them. No need for austerity measures for these tribal heads as their “families” of 800 or more pull in the favors to provide the waiting staff and catering needed to win an election.

Touring the Jordanian campaign trail of tents, it soon becomes apparent that victory is certainly sweet, as the politicians serve up traditional Arabic desserts to testify to their saccharine sacrifice. What price victory, as these MP hopefuls are willing to admit that no cost is too lavish to secure the Kingdom vote.

But despite their best efforts, candidates still cannot escape the law of the land, which takes a dim view on buying off voters. So while the arrests, corruption and mutterings of police conspiracy continue, we spent the day eating kanafeh with the Kingdom’s best and brightest.

 

What do you think about the candidates' spending habits? Is it all part of the fun or part of the problem? Share your thoughts with us below.

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