Constitutional reform in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

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Ghaith Al Amaireh reviews the debates around recent amendments to Jordan’s Constitution. He argues that they point towards a wider plan for political reform, although the significant role of the King means Jordanian democracy will continue be distinct from Western models.

Last summer, the Jordanian Parliament promulgated two constitutional amendments. Both were approved by an overwhelming majority. The first amendment expanded the jurisdiction of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to administer municipal elections and any other elections assigned by the government, in addition to parliamentary elections. The second gave the King the power to appoint, dismiss and accept the resignation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of the General Intelligence Department (GID).

The vast majority of the public welcomed the expansion of the IEC’s mandate. The general feeling was that increasing the scope of the IEC’s power would increase its credibility and reduce the possibility of electoral manipulation or fraud. There is also hope that the expansion of the IEC’s power to local-level (Municipal) elections will facilitate wider decentralisation as the government has promised to improve the delivery of government services and community development by gradually transferring these responsibilities with the regional and local councils. Giving the IEC oversight over elections held at municipal level will ensure the utmost levels of transparency, integrity and fairness of the selection of these increasingly important public officials.

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