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Psci 339 - Jordan Paper

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Essay title: Psci 339 - Jordan Paper

PSCI 339

Jordan Paper

1) Throughout the Middle East, there exists many countries that use the Monarchy system as their choice for rule. In a Monarchy system, the King has direct rule over the population. The Kings are constantly vying for power because their goal is to rule as long as they are alive. Due to the fact that the Kings want to stay in power, they will do anything to thwart any opposition that threatens there regime security. Even in the temporary democratic state of Kuwait and Jordan, the rulers would manipulate laws in order to benefit themselves and their supporters. Lets first look at the rulers of Kuwait and see how they manipulated elections. In the late 1930’s, Ahmad al-Jabir dissolved the first council and decided to elect a new one. Al-Jabir opposed the new council because the new council is opposed to al-Jabir’s new constitution. Al-Jabir dissolved the new council and appointed a new council himself (Tetreeault 64). The ruler did not like that the council opposed his new constitution so al-Jabir changed the electoral rules in order to thwart opposition. Tetreault states that the amir and the National Assembly got into a confontration in which the amir dissolved Parliament and suspended the constitution. While the constitution was suspended, the amir attempted to change the political views and limit the powers of the parliament (66). Again, once someone opposes the ruler, the ruler will do anything possible to squash the opposition from spreading. In Tetreault’s book, she states that, “The political impact of tribal voters on the composition of the National Assembly was heightened by changes in election districts. In 1980, Law no. 99 was issued which set out new election districts” (108). The change in voters districts doubled the tribal representation which in turn reduced the proportion of hadhar in the 1981 Parliament (Tetreault 108). The power went into the hands of the badu who were more loyal to the existing amir. The amir shifted the districts in order to draw more support. This is just another example of a Kuwati ruler manipulating electoral rules.

Strikingly similar manipulations of electoral law occurred in the Kingdom of Jordan. In Greenwood’s article, he states that, “In November 1985, one year after the recall of the legislature, King Husayn established a ten person committee of loyalists to draft a new electoral law” (5). This is a prime example of the King of Jordan changing electoral law to keep opposition down thus keeping the regime security high. The Kings support tends to not go down as long as the King has supporters around him. That was King Husayn’s goal was in manipulationg the law. A second electoral law cam right after the above mentioned change. The new electoral law “created smaller electoral districts and reduced the number of seats in each district” (Greenwood 6). Reducing the size of districts and their number of representatives kept the chances down for ideological candidates and favored candidates relying on kinship ties. Once again, this manipulation was just a way for the King to bring greater security to his regime.

2) It is surprising to many that countries in the Middle East actually have attempted to set up democracies in certain Arab countries. Most would think that Arab people do not support democracy because it is often associated with the West. In some countries however, countries such as Jordan and Kuwait have attempted to democratize. It turns out that the attempts to democratize did not work out perfectly. In the region of the Middle East, two things stand out that prevent democracy in the Middle East. Gause states that, “ the prominence of interstate conflict, the importance of transnational ideologies, and the centrality of the state in Arab economies and of external rents in states’ fiscal strategies-all lessen the incentives for rational political leaders to accept political openings in their regimes” (284). Democracy calls for the people of a state to elect their own leaders thus forcing the existing ruler to open their regimes. Many rulers in Arab countries do not want to open their regime up because they like being the one with all the power. The reasons why interstate conflict and transnational ideologies inhibit democracy from forming.

We shall first take a look at why the prevelance of interstate conflict inhibits democracy. Throughout the Middle East, many Arab countries have been involved in International conflict or wars. According to Gause, “Wars concentrate power in the hands of the executive, a power most leaders are loath to give up” (3). In the Middle East, the leaders do not want to let any of the power slip away. Because Arab countries have participated in wars, the emphasis has been on the executive thus the Arab leaders are unwilling

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