Jordanians were voting Tuesday in municipal elections with the impact of a massive influx of war refugees from neighbouring Syria on a struggling economy stoking voter resentment and apathy.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition party, is boycotting the polls, charging that, despite repeated promises since the Arab Spring of 2011, there is no real readiness for change.
With few candidates of the leftist or nationalist opposition standing, tribal figures, who are the traditional bedrock of the monarchy, are set to sweep the elections.
"Jordan held parliamentary elections in January and today people are voting in municipal elections. It is an achievement for democracy and reform in this turbulent region," Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur told reporters after he voted in his northwestern hometown of Salt.
Municipal Affairs Minister Walid Masri told a news conference that the electoral process "is going smoothly. There are no obstacles or problems to report."
"The turnout is good and we hope Jordanians will vote, boosting democracy and helping municipalities provide services to people," he said.
Masri added that more than 4,000 local and international observers were monitoring the process.
The election has been overshadowed by anger among Jordanians over the impact of more than 500,000 Syrian refugees on their lives and country, with its population of just 6.8 million.
Officials say the influx has placed a huge burden on already overstretched water and power supplies as well as housing and education.
Also, the government has announced a raft of austerity measures as it battles to reduce a $2 billion deficit this year and rein in a foreign debt that now exceeds $23 billion (17 billion euros).
Last month, it doubled taxes on cellphones and mobile telephone contracts, and it also plans to raise the price of electricity by 15 percent.
"We are suffering from the large number of Syrian refugees. We have additional water and electricity problems as well as obstacles in finding jobs," said Odai Khendi, before voting in the northern city of Ramtah, home to a large community of Syrian refugees.
"I am voting today to help improve our situation. Our demands for help are not political."
Khitam Rodan, from the city of Mafraq, which is hosting tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in the north, agreed.
"Our situation is disastrous. We need a solution," she said.
The desert Zaatari refugee camp, home to more than 150,000 Syrians, is located 10 kilometres (six miles) east of Mafraq.
In the mainly Christian city of Fuheis, west of Amman, supporters of candidates offered Arabic coffee to voters amid normal traffic and a low-key security presence.
"I know that the country is going through difficult times, but I want to vote and choose the right person to help the city," Widad Issa, 85, told AFP after her grandson helped her vote in Fuheis.
Some 3.7 million Jordanians are registered to vote in the elections, in which they will pick 100 mayors and 970 municipal councillors from about 3,000 candidates in 94 municipalities.
The electoral law reserves 297 municipal council seats for women.
Around 50,000 policemen were deployed across the kingdom on election day "to prevent any violations and ensure a smooth process", according to police chief Talal Kofahi.
Analysts say public anger at the difficulties facing Jordan is likely to lead to a low turnout and might spark post-election disturbances.
After four hours of voting, officials said the participation rate was four percent. Polling stations will be open for 10 hours until 5:00 pm (14000 GMT)
The government has announced that about 1.25 million members of the armed forces, security services, people living abroad, and more than 40,000 election employees will not take part.