Jordan - Politics, government, and taxation

Transjordan was created in 1921 by the British, who brought over Hashemite Prince Adbullah from Saudi Arabia to be head of state. The Hashemite clan claims to descend from the Muslim prophet Mohammed and have enjoyed very close ties to the West since the creation of the country. Transjordan achieved independence from Britain in 1946 and was renamed The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is a constitutional monarchy based on the constitution promulgated in 1952. The king and his cabinet ministers hold the executive authority, and the king signs and executes all laws, however, 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 royal decree, approves amendments to the constitution, can declare war, and holds the title of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Cabinet decisions, court judgments, and the national currency are also all issued in his name. The cabinet is led by a prime minister who is appointed by the king. Legislative power rests in the bicameral (2-chamber) Majlis al-Umma (National Assembly). The 80-member Majlis al-Nuwaab (Assembly of Deputies or House of Representatives) is subject to dissolution by the king and of the 80 seats, 71 must go to Muslims and 9 to Christians. The 40 members of the Senate are appointed by the monarch for 4-year terms.

From 1953 until 1999 all this authority resided in Jordan's beloved King Hussein, who was one of the most famous and internationally respected Middle Eastern heads of state. King Hussein was instrumental in designing the framework for the "Peace Process" (the aim of which was to settle the historical conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli government). His indefatigable commitment to a just and lasting peace accorded him the honor of being a guest speaker at the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (prime minister of Israel [1974-77, 1992-95]). A strong proponent of democratization, King Hussein brought an end to martial law in 1991 and legalized political parties in 1992. He survived many assassination attempts, relying on the loyalty of his military. After King Hussein died of cancer, his son Abdullah II was crowned king on 9 June 1999. King Abdullah, along with Bashar Assad of Syria, belongs to a new generation of Arab leaders who have been educated in the West and whose priorities lie in the realm of economic liberalization , political accountability, societal justice, greater equality, and international status. Jordan's new politically accountable setting combined with its economic liberalization and its fast-growing population have led to the appearance of several political parties including the Communist Party and the Muslim Brotherhood. (The latter is a Sunni Islamic movement founded in Egypt in 1928 and active throughout the Arab world, although banned in most countries. It aims at the establishment of a Muslim state governed by Islamic law.) Several Arab nationalist parties are also active.

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