Figure 11. Abbreviated Genealogy of the Hashimite Family, 1989
Under the Constitution, the monarchy is the most important
political institution in the country. Articles 28 through 40 of the
Constitution enumerate the king's powers. He appoints the prime
minister, the president and members of the Senate, judges, and
other senior government and military functionaries. He commands the
armed forces, approves and promulgates laws, declares war,
concludes peace, and signs treaties (which in theory must be
approved by the National Assembly). The king convenes, opens,
adjourns, suspends, or dissolves the legislature; he also orders,
and may postpone, the holding of elections. He has veto power that
can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote of each house. The
Constitution states that the king exercises his jurisdiction by
iradah (sing.; pl., iradat--royal decrees), which
must be signed by the prime minister and the minister or ministers
concerned. As head of state, the king is accountable to no one.
Royal succession devolves by male descent in the Hashimite
fig. 11). The royal mandate is passed to the eldest
son of the reigning king, to the eldest son of the successor king,
and by similar process thereafter. Should the king die without a
direct heir, the deceased monarch's eldest brother has first claim,
followed by the eldest son of the other brothers according to their
seniority in age. Should there be no suitable direct heir, the
National Assembly selects a successor from among "the descendants
of the founder of the Arab Revolt, the late King Hussein ibn Ali"
(see Jordan - World War I: Diplomacy and Intrigue
, ch. 1).
The heir apparent to the throne must be sane, a male Muslim,
the son of Muslim parents, and born of a lawful wife. In addition,
he must not have been excluded by a royal decree from the
succession "on the ground of unsuitability." In 1965 Hussein (b.
1935) used this rule to exclude from the line of succession his two
sons by his Muslim but British second wife Princess Muna. He also
issued a royal decree that excluded his next younger brother
Muhammad (b. 1945) and designated a second brother, Hasan (b.
1948), as crown prince. In June 1978, Hussein designated Prince Ali
(b. 1975), his son from his third wife (Queen Alia, who was killed
in a helicopter crash in February 1977) to succeed Hasan as heir
apparent on the latter's succession to the throne.
When the throne is inherited by a minor, the powers of the king
are exercised by a regent or by a council of regency, both of which
may be appointed by a decree of the (previous) reigning king; if
the king dies without having made such an appointment, the
appointment is made by the Council of Ministers. The king attains
majority on his eighteenth birthday based on the Muslim lunar
calendar. Should the king be disabled by illness, his powers are
exercised by a deputy, by a council of the throne appointed by the
king, or by the Council of Ministers if the king is incapable of
such appointment. The deputy or the council of the throne may also
perform royal duties during the absence of the king from the
country. If the absence extends to more than four months, the House
of Representatives is empowered to "review" the matter.
The king has full responsibility for all matters pertaining to
the royal household. He appoints the chief of the royal court, an
official who can play an influential political role through his
control of access to the monarch. Although the rank of the chief of
the royal court is equivalent to that of a cabinet minister, his
office is not part of the executive branch.
Data as of December 1989