European Forum

Jordan’s King welcomes reform plans to strengthen parliament

Tue 16 Aug 2011 Jordan’s King welcomes reform plans to strengthen parliament

Last Sunday (14 August) proposals for limited reforms of the Constitution in Jordan were presented to ruler King Abdullah. He said he hoped the reforms – that include the limited transfer of some powers to parliament – would boost public participation in politics

King Abdullah assigned a panel to draw up the reforms in April, as pro-democracy protests swept the region. But activists say the 42 proposals do not go far enough and are demanding the right to elect the prime minister. Both the prime minister and cabinet are currently appointed by the king. In June he promised to relinquish this right but warned that sudden change could lead to "chaos and unrest". At a ceremony in Amman on Sunday, he said the "historic constitutional revisions reflect the high level of political maturity among Jordanians".

Proposed reforms
The measures would give parliament marginally more power, ensuring that if the Lower House is dissolved elections must be held within four months instead of the current two years. Also among the proposals are for a constitutional court to be set up to oversee and safeguard legislation, and for a new independent commission to oversee elections. The controversial military courts would only try terrorism and espionage cases and not those involving finance and corruption. The panel also recommended the lowering of the age limit for parliamentary candidates from 35 to 25, "to reinforce the role of youth in public and parliamentary life".

King Abdullah said he hoped the reforms would be passed by parliament within a month. "We hope to institutionalise citizen activism and effective public participation in the legislative process as well as the formation of governments," he said.

But the BBC's Dale Gavlak in Amman said Jordan's young activists, who have been inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, want greater government accountability and new economic policies. They say the proposals tackle none of these issues. "This is part of the government's gimmicks to block real reforms," 28-year-old electrician Wael Atout told the Associated Press news agency. "The changes are insufficient - we said we want to be able to elect our prime ministers."

Moreover, political commentators say as the long as the electoral system does not address discrimination against citizens of Palestinian origin, grossly underrepresented in parliament and the state, real change was still a long way to go. "The reforms cannot be complete unless they enhance the participation of all Jordanians on equal footing and treat them as individuals, not as belonging to groups, whether political or tribal," said Labib Kamhawi, a prominent Jordanian analyst.

Jordan, has not experienced the sort of turmoil which has been seen in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in recent months. However there have been small protests, in which one person has died, calling for greater democracy and action on high unemployment and the rising cost of living.

Sources: BBC; Reuters; Image: Flicker

Back to news

LebanonLebanon

Thu 28 Jan 2016 Politics in in Lebanon are based on a post-civil war imposed sectarian system. The presidency is reserved for a Christian, the Prime Minister post for a Sunni and the post of parliament speaker for a Shi’ite. Divisions within the sectarian groups, as well as those between the March 14 Alliance and March 8 Alliance have left the country in a political deadlock for months. Lebanon has been... Read full update

Palestinian TerritoriesPalestinian Territories

Thu 28 Jan 2016 In September 2015 the UN General Assembly approved a proposal to raise the Palestinian
flag at its headquarters, a symbolically important move. Still, its status is not recognized by the United Nations, Israel and major Western nations such as the United States. Previously, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a request to join the United Nations as a full member state in 2011, but... Read full update

LibyaLibya

Wed 27 Jan 2016 With the successful conduct of the first ever free national elections held on 7 July 2012, Libya has entered a second phase in the transition towards becoming a democracy. After almost 42 years under the autocratic regime of Gaddafi the people of Libya have taken over control in their country, paying the price of undergoing the most violent conflict between government and citizens among the... Read full update

Stay informed. Get the newsflash.

Join our news service. European Forum for Solidarity and Democracy provides news and updates about Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.
close X

Send this page to a contact


E-mail address recipient

Your e-mail address

Your name

Message