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Jordan - Government

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated on January 8, 1952. Jordan has been ruled by four monarchs with the title of His Majesty the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of.lordan: HM King Abdullah bin Al Hussein (1921-1951), HM King Talal bin Abdullah ( 1951-1952), HM King Hussein bin Talal (1952- 1999), and HM King Abdullah bin Hussein, 1999-present). In 1946, the Legislative Council pronounced the King Abdullah I as the constitutional monarch at the head of the Jordanian State. In January 1952, King Talal I and Parliament passed a new constitution declaring that the system of government in Jordan was a hereditary parliamentary monarchy and that the people of Jordan were the source of all powers. On August 11, 1952, King Hussein was proclaimed King and reigned until January 1999. King Abdullah II was proclaimed monarch on February 7, 1999 after King Hussein's death.

King Hussein presided over the transformation of Jordan from a tribal and nomadic society still under British colonial influence to a fully modem state with an extensive internal infrastructure and literacy and education levels that are among the highest in the developing world. King Hussein was committed to popular consultation and participation in government as well as respect for human rights throughout the Arab world. In 1954, the constitution was amended to strengthen the democratic base. The amended constitution ensured that the government was answerable to parliament. Jordan also has an excellent record in human rights.

The law does not provide citizens the right to change their monarch or government. The king appoints and dismisses the prime minister, cabinet, and the House of Notables; dissolves parliament; and establishes public policy. Citizens may participate in the political system through their elected representatives in the Chamber of Deputies. The cabinet, based on the prime minister's recommendation, appoints the mayors of Amman, Wadi Musa (Petra), and Aqaba, a special economic zone. The mayors of the other 93 municipalities are elected.

The king proposes and dismisses extraordinary sessions of parliament and may postpone regular sessions for as long as 60 days. For example, the king decreed the start of an extraordinary session on June 11, 2009 and dismissed the session on August 10, 2009. On November 23, the king dissolved parliament when he called for parliamentary elections in the final quarter of 2010. If the government amends or enacts a law when parliament is not in session, it must submit the law to parliament for consideration during the next session; however, such "provisional" laws do not expire. Although they are technically subject to action by parliament when it returns to session, in practice they remain in force in the absence of legislative action. For example, on October 15, 2009 the king issued a royal decree approving amendments to the Social Security Law and placing them in provisional status. Previous parliaments have largely ignored controversial temporary legislation, indefinitely extending the life of several temporary laws.

Executive authority is vested in the King and his Council of Ministers. The King signs and executes all laws. His veto power may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the parliament. He appoints and may dismiss all judges by decree, approves amendments to the constitution, declares war, and commands the armed forces. Cabinet decisions, court judgments, and the national currency are issued in his name. The King may dismiss other cabinet members at the prime minister's request. The cabinet is responsible to the lower house of parliament on matters of general policy and can be forced to resign by a two-thirds vote of "no confidence" by that body. In December 2009, King Abdullah dismissed the cabinet as part of wider effort to strengthen governance and reform in the country. In July 2010, he reshuffled the cabinet, appointing nine new ministers.

Legislative power rests in the bicameral parliament. The lower house of parliament, elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term, is subject to dissolution by the King. The King appoints the 55-member upper house for a 4-year term. Elections for municipal councils and mayors were held in July 2007; 20% of the council seats were reserved by quota for women. In the most recent November 2007 parliamentary elections, women held seven seats; six seats in the lower house of parliament were reserved by quota for women, and a seventh woman won a seat outside the quota. The King dissolved parliament in November 2009 when new elections were scheduled for November 9, 2010.

The constitution provides for three categories of courts--civil, religious, and special. Administratively, Jordan is divided into 12 governorates, each headed by a governor appointed by the King. They are the sole authorities for all government departments and development projects in their respective areas.

In June 2011, King Abdullah made a series of big promises which went far beyond addressing individual grievances. The promise of a future constitutional monarchy in which the parliament, rather than the court, would appoint the government, the promise of a completely new election law that would be more fairly representative, as well as a far more transparent government…that would eradicate corruption and allow for equal participation.

By 2012 the Muslim Brotherhood’s political agenda highlighted two reforms that would push Jordan toward a constitutional monarchy. The Brotherhood is arguing for changes that would take away the king’s power to select the prime minister and the members of the upper house of parliament. The Brotherhood also proposes that members of both houses of parliament be popularly elected and elected parliamentarians would then choose the prime, who in turn would create his own cabinet. There’s been a real dearth of political parties. And what the Brotherhood wants is that the largest bloc in the parliament to be able to choose the government.

A number of political activists are now openly and repeatedly calling for a limitation of the monarchy’s powers. The king and the traditional power centers in the kingdom oppose this because this is really one step closer to a constitutional monarchy. The king has spoken about a move to a constitutional monarchy but this is clearly not something he is prepared to do. The bottom line is people want more representation. Most Jordanian critics still believe that the king has a right to rule and that the monarchy has the legitimacy to rule Jordan.

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Page last modified: 11-11-2020 11:01:47 ZULU