AMMAN - Jordan's Islamists said on Wednesday they plan to boycott early polls expected this year, a day after MPs endorsed an electoral law seen by the powerful opposition group as "retarded."
"We are in touch with centrist political parties and other groups to form a 'shadow government' and 'shadow parliament,' which means a definite boycott of the general elections," Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said.
"We expect many to boycott the polls. Those who bet on the participation of the Islamist movement in the vote are wrong and delusional."
The new law, endorsed on Tuesday, increased the number of parliamentary seats to 140 from 120, including an expanded quota for women from 12 to 15.
Under the law, which will go into effect after King Abdullah II approves it, voters can cast two ballots: one for individual candidates in their governorates and one for political parties or coalitions nationwide.
But only 17 seats can be contested by party and coalition candidates.
"This is a retarded and provocative law that will not produce representative lower house deputies. It does not honour those who have been demonstrating for reform since last year. It will kill political life," Bani Rsheid said.
According to the constitution, elections take place every four years, but Jordan held early polls in 2010 after the king dissolved parliament.
The Islamists boycotted those elections in protest at constituency boundaries, saying they over-represented rural areas considered loyal to the government at the expense of urban areas seen as Islamist strongholds.
The king is pushing to hold crucial elections before the end of 2012 as Jordanians have held relatively small but persistent Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations almost every week since last year to demand sweeping reforms.
"Under this law, the elections will turn into a crisis, instead of a solution," Bani Rsheid warned.