Jordan's king calls for 'modernisation' of political system

Government spokesman says new election law submitted to parliament

Jordan's King Abdullah at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May, in Amman.  AP
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Jordan’s King Abdullah has told the government to pursue political “modernisation”, as proposed constitutional changes leave significant powers in the country with the monarch.

Jordan is in an economic downturn and the authorities intensified a crackdown on dissent this year. Last month, a royal committee appointed by the monarch developed political reform proposals.

The Hashemite Royal Court said in a statement that King Abdullah met Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh and members of the cabinet on Wednesday and urged them to implement the recommendations of the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System.

The recommendations include a new election law that allows some candidates to run for parliament across districts, if they belong to political parties.

The 130-member legislature mostly has ceremonial powers. It is dominated by tribes who benefit from the current electoral system.

King Abdullah, who has reigned since 1999, appoints and dismisses governments, commands the military and controls foreign policy.

Government spokesman Faisal Al Shboul told state television on Wednesday that the cabinet had submitted a draft election law to parliament, in line with the committee’s recommendations.

The law, he said, would bring Jordan into “a new legislative and executive era”.

Following other recommendations by the committee, a draft of proposed constitutional changes expected to be submitted to parliament commits the state to protect women “from all forms of violence and discrimination”.

The draft was published on Wednesday by Ammon News.

The changes would also prevent parliamentarians from holding ministerial positions or having contracts with the state, and lower the minimum age to run for parliament to 25 from 30.

But the proposed amendments make it harder for parliament to convene a vote of confidence in the government, requiring a motion for a vote to be approved by 25 per cent of members, instead of the current 7 per cent.

A new National Security Council is planned, which would be headed by the king, under the new proposals.

Updated: November 18, 2021, 1:47 PM