Plan of investigation In an address on Election Law Amendments on August 17, 1993 King Hussein I of Jordan stated in Amman “.. Democracy in Jordan has become an example and model, a blessed tree deep-rooted in this beloved Arab land, .. “. On October 29, 1995 at the Middle East and North Africa Economics Summit in Amman, King Hussein I stated “We are also aware that the peace and prosperity can not prevail except in an atmosphere of justice, freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the supremacy of the law.
” With such statements, often heard by the kings and ministers of Jordan since the end of the eighties, the leaders of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan imply that democracy is not only a necessity but also practiced in Jordan. This investigation shall ponder on the exercise of democracy in Jordan comparing it to the basic principals of modern democracy in the western world and answer whether Jordan is a modern Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. Primary facts about the governmental system of Jordan are collected and presented from seven different sources in the Summary of Evidence.
In the Evaluation of Sources two of the sources; The myth of Jordanian “democracy” and the case of Rami Khouri and the chapter Jordan in the Encyclopedia Britannica are evaluated and assessed for their background, intention and objectivity. The collected information is then analyzed and conclusions are drawn regarding the question of this investigation. Summary of evidence In 1921, after the British had conquered the land east and west of the Jordan river, Britain’s Palestine Mandate installed Prince Abdullah as ruler of the land eastern to the Jordan river (Transjordan).
Prince Abdullah came from the strongest and most dominant tribe in the region. The Prince was therefore the most convenient choice for the British mandate, as he would be supported by a large majority of the Jordanians at the time. By 1946 following Britain’s recognition of Transjordan as a sovereign independent state, the Prince assumed the title of king of the ‘Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’. King Abdullah has been the first of four kings in Jordan since its existence. According to the Britannica and Dr.
Tamimi (source 2) the current government system of Jordan is based on a constitution written in 1949 and amended several times since. The Constitution defines Jordan as a “hereditary monarchy” with a parliament system where the legislative powers are placed in the hands of the king and parliament. The parliament comprises of the ministers and Prime Minister appointed by the king, an Upper House of 40 senators also nominated by the king and the Lower House consisting of 80 members elected by the people under universal suffrage.
The constitution declares the kings as head of state granting him immunity from all liabilities and responsibilities yet empowering him to modify, promulgate and enforce laws and regulation, exercise judicial authority, inaugurate, suspend and dissolve the upper and lower houses when he deems necessary. Indeed King Hussein I has exercised his constitutional powers to dissolve the lower House in 1976, reconvened the parliament in 1984, remove Prime Minister Rifa’I in 1989 and ordered his new Prime Minister Zaid bin Shakir to prepare for elections.
All sources consider the elections on November 8, 1989 as the first democratic elections in Jordan. In the 1989 elections, one of the few yet major parties to participate was the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Ikhwan. As a strictly religious movement, the Ikhwan seeking to increase its influence in the Arab world and Jordan, debated internally whether to participate in the elections; “while it is true that the Ikhwan had been democratic, it was the national democratic process introduced in 1989 that tested their own democracy. ” writes Dr.
Tamimi in his article Islam and Democracy, Jordan and the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Tamimi continues “Those who argued that Islam and democracy were incompatible had lost. A new Islamic discourse was emerging. In contrast to the discourse of the seventies, democracy was now being spoken of as a mechanism rather than an ideology. It was perceived as a set of tools aimed at preventing of despotism and safeguarding civil liberties and human rights. ” Indeed the elections were conducted and different groups were elected, yet Jordan’s democracy is observed by many within and without with a question.
“What Jordan is in reality is a somewhat disguised police state run by the monarchy, the army, and the vast intelligence apparatus. This ‘Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’ uses a variety of sophisticated tactics to co-opt, neutralize, and repress all serious opposition – political or intellectual. ” Writes the Mid-East Realities in its web site article dated 28. 7. 97. The response of the Jordanian people to the democratic system implemented since 1989 is filled with reserved interest. Democracy is slowly increasing and western ideologies are slowly finding a place among Jordanian perspectives.
Articles published at The Star, Jordan’s political, economic and cultural weekly, report about the rapidly growing support of “freedom of opinion” and “press freedom”. On the other hand, it does not seem as though most Jordanians take great interest in governmental party support. That same source claims that less then two percent of Jordanians belong to any political party. Even with the current democratic state in Jordan, Jordanians still feel that any form of demonstration against the government would result in possible punishment to them and sever damage to their families and associates.