Jordan Table of Contents

The Constitution divides the powers and functions of the government into executive, legislative, and judicial categories. The Constitution assigns the legislative power to both the bicameral National Assembly and the king, who is also vested with executive power. The king exercises his executive authority with the aid of his cabinet ministers, collectively known as the Council of Ministers. Judicial power is vested in independent courts. The authority and services of the central government are extended to all corners of the kingdom through the eight governorates or provinces.

The King

Under the Constitution, the monarchy is the most important political institution in the country. Articles 28 through 40 of the Constitution enumerate the king's powers. He appoints the prime minister, the president and members of the Senate, judges, and other senior government and military functionaries. He commands the armed forces, approves and promulgates laws, declares war, concludes peace, and signs treaties (which in theory must be approved by the National Assembly). The king convenes, opens, adjourns, suspends, or dissolves the legislature; he also orders, and may postpone, the holding of elections. He has veto power that can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of each house. The Constitution states that the king exercises his jurisdiction by iradah (sing.; pl., iradat--royal decrees), which must be signed by the prime minister and the minister or ministers concerned. As head of state, the king is accountable to no one.

Royal succession devolves by male descent in the Hashimite dynasty. The royal mandate is passed to the eldest son of the reigning king, to the eldest son of the successor king, and by similar process thereafter. Should the king die without a direct heir, the deceased monarch's eldest brother has first claim, followed by the eldest son of the other brothers according to their seniority in age. Should there be no suitable direct heir, the National Assembly selects a successor from among "the descendants of the founder of the Arab Revolt, the late King Hussein ibn Ali".

The heir apparent to the throne must be sane, a male Muslim, the son of Muslim parents, and born of a lawful wife. In addition, he must not have been excluded by a royal decree from the succession "on the ground of unsuitability." In 1965 Hussein (b. 1935) used this rule to exclude from the line of succession his two sons by his Muslim but British second wife Princess Muna. He also issued a royal decree that excluded his next younger brother Muhammad (b. 1945) and designated a second brother, Hasan (b. 1948), as crown prince. In June 1978, Hussein designated Prince Ali (b. 1975), his son from his third wife (Queen Alia, who was killed in a helicopter crash in February 1977) to succeed Hasan as heir apparent on the latter's succession to the throne.

When the throne is inherited by a minor, the powers of the king are exercised by a regent or by a council of regency, both of which may be appointed by a decree of the (previous) reigning king; if the king dies without having made such an appointment, the appointment is made by the Council of Ministers. The king attains majority on his eighteenth birthday based on the Muslim lunar calendar. Should the king be disabled by illness, his powers are exercised by a deputy, by a council of the throne appointed by the king, or by the Council of Ministers if the king is incapable of such appointment. The deputy or the council of the throne may also perform royal duties during the absence of the king from the country. If the absence extends to more than four months, the House of Representatives is empowered to "review" the matter.

The king has full responsibility for all matters pertaining to the royal household. He appoints the chief of the royal court, an official who can play an influential political role through his control of access to the monarch. Although the rank of the chief of the royal court is equivalent to that of a cabinet minister, his office is not part of the executive branch.

The Council of Ministers
The Legislature
The Judiciary
Local Administration

More about the Government and Politics of Jordan.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress