Politics:

Jordan's most executive power is the King and it is a constitutional monarchy with a representative government. The King traditionally has held substantial power, however the democratically elected Parliament holds significant influence and power in national governance.

Constitution

Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated on 8 January 1952. 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 National Assembly. 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 council of ministers, led by a prime minister, is appointed by the king, who may dismiss other cabinet members at the prime minister's request. The cabinet is responsible to the Chamber of Deputies on matters of general policy and can be forced to resign by a 50% or more of vote of "no confidence" by that body.

The constitution provides for three categories of courts: civil, religious, and special. Administratively, Jordan is divided into twelve 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.

Legal system and legislation

Jordan's legal system is based on Islamic law and French codes. Judicial review of legislative acts occurs in a special High Tribunal. It has not accepted International Court of Justice jurisdiction.

Jordan has multi-party politics. There are over 30 political parties in the Jordan from a wide range of positions ranging from extreme left (Jordanian Communist Party) to extreme right (Islamic Action Front).

Article 97 of Jordan’s constitution guarantees the independence of the judicial branch, clearly stating that judges are 'subject to no authority but that of the law.' While the king must approve the appointment and dismissal of judges, in practice these are supervised by the Higher Judicial Council.

The Jordanian legal system draws upon civil traditions as well as Islamic law and custom. Article 99 of the Constitution divides the courts into three categories: civil, religious and special. The civil courts deal with civil and criminal matters in accordance with the law, and they have jurisdiction over all persons in all matters, civil and criminal, including cases brought against the government. The civil courts include Magistrate Courts, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, High Administrative Courts and the Supreme Court.

The religious courts include shari’a (Islamic law) courts and the tribunals of other religious communities, namely those of the Christian minority. Religious courts have primary and appellate courts and deal only with matters involving personal law such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Shari’a courts also have jurisdiction over matters pertaining to the Islamic waqfs. In cases involving parties of different religions, regular courts have jurisdiction.

Specialized courts involve various bodies. One such body is the Supreme Council which will interpret the Constitution if requested by either the National Assembly or the prime minister, according to Dew et al.: "...such courts are usually created in areas that the legislator deems should be governed by specialized courts with more experience and knowledge in specific matters than other regular courts."Other examples of special courts include the Court of Income Tax and the Highest Court of Felonies.

The strictly military courts of the martial law period have been abolished and replaced with a State Security Court, which is composed of both military and civilian judges. The court tries both military and civilians and its jurisdiction includes offenses against the external and internal security of the state as well as drug-related and other offenses. The findings of this court are subject to appeal before the High Court.

Both Article 102 of the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure mandate the right of an accused person to a lawyer of his or her own choice during the investigation and trial period. Article 22 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also provides that a lawyer has the right to attend the interrogation unless the investigation is confidential or urgent. Article 28 of the Code of Criminal Procedure declares that detainees should be brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest, even in special security cases, giving them an opportunity to have full access to legal counsel.

Prior to 2002 Jordan’s legal system only allowed men to file for divorce, however, during this year the first Jordanian woman successfully filed for divorce;this was made possible from a proposal by a royal human rights commission which had been established by King Abdullah who had vowed to improve the status of women in Jordan.

Despite being traditionally dominated by men the number of women involved as lawyers in the Jordan legal system has been increasing. As of mid-2006 Jordan had 1,284 female lawyers, out of a total number of 6,915, and 35 female judges from a total of 630. In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honour" and at least eight such killings have been reported in 2008, according to Jordanian authorities. In 2007 17 such murders were recorded.

[] Kings of Jordan and political events

King Abdullah I ruled Jordan after independence from Britain. After the assassination of King Abdullah I in 1951, his son King Talal ruled briefly. King Talal's major accomplishment was the Jordanian constitution. King Talal was removed from the throne in 1952 due to mental illness. At that time his son, Hussein, was too young to rule, and hence a committee ruled over Jordan.

After Hussein reached 18, he ruled Jordan as king from 1953 to 1999, surviving a number of challenges to his rule, drawing on the loyalty of his military, and serving as a symbol of unity and stability in Jordan. King Hussein ended martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. In 1989 and 1993, Jordan held free and fair parliamentary elections. Controversial changes in the election law led Islamist parties to boycott the 1997 elections.

King Abdullah II succeeded his father Hussein following the latter's death in February 1999. Abdullah moved quickly to reaffirm Jordan's peace treaty with Israel and its relations with the United States. Abdullah, during the first year in power, refocused the government's agenda on economic reform.

Jordan's continuing structural economic difficulties, burgeoning population, and more open political environment led to the emergence of a variety of political parties. Moving toward greater independence, Jordan's parliament has investigated corruption charges against several regime figures and has become the major forum in which differing political views, including those of political Islamists, are expressed. While the King remains the ultimate authority in Jordan, the parliament plays an important role.

Parliament

Main article: Parliament of Jordan

The 1952 Constitution provided for the establishment of the bicameral Jordanian National Assembly (‘Majlis al-Umma’). The Parliament consists of two Chambers: The Chamber of Deputies (‘Majlis al-Nuwaab’) and the Senate (‘Majlis al-Aayan’; literally, ‘Assembly of Notables’). The Senate has 55 Senators, all of whom are directly appointed by the King, whilst the Chamber of Deputies/House of Representatives has 80 elected members representing 12 constituencies. Of the 80 members of the Lower Chamber, 71 must be Muslim and 9 Christians, with six seats held back specifically for women. The Constitution ensures that the Senate cannot be more than half the size of the Chamber of Deputies.

The constitution does not provide a strong system of checks and balances within which the Jordanian Parliament can assert its role in relationship to the monarch. During the suspension of Parliament between 2001 and 2003, the scope of King Abdullah II’s power was demonstrated with the passing of 110 temporary laws. Two of such laws dealt with election law and were seen to reduce the power of Parliament.

Senators have terms of four years and are appointed by the King and can be reappointed. Prospective Senators must be at least forty years old and have held senior positions in either the government or military. Appointed Senators have included former Prime Ministers and Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Deputies are elected to also serve a four year term. Candidates must be older than thirty-five, cannot have blood ties to the King, and must not have any financial interests in government contracts.

Political parties

The reforms of 1989 legalized political parties and opposition movements. The result is over 30 political parties, but the only political party that plays a role in the legislature is the Islamic Action Front (IAF). Political parties can be seen to represent four sections: Islamists, leftists, Arab nationalists and liberals. Some other political parties in Jordan including the Jordanian Arab Democratic Party, Jordanian Socialist Party, and Muslim Centre Party, but these have little impact on the political process because of lack of organization and clear platforms on key domestic issues as well as differences and factions within these political parties.

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