The Parliament of Jordan
The Parliament of Jordan is the bicameral Jordanian National Assembly. Established by the 1952 Constitution, the legislature consists of two houses: the House of Senate and the House of Representatives.
The House of Senate has 75 members who are directly appointed by the King while the House of Representatives has 150 elected members with 9 seats reserved for Christians, three for Circassian and Chechen minorities and 15 for women. The Constitution ensures that the Senate cannot be more than half the size of the House of Representatives. The members of both houses serve for four-year terms. The number of Senators was increased to 75 in October 2013, after the House of Representatives saw a rise in the number of Representatives earlier the same year.
Both houses initiate debates and vote on legislation. Proposals are referred by the Prime Minister to the House of Representatives where they are either accepted, amended or rejected. Every proposal is referred to a committee of the lower house for consideration. If it is approved then it is referred to the government to draft in the form of a bill and submit it to the House of Representatives. If approved by this House it is passed onto the Senate for debate and a vote. If the Senate gives its approval then the King can either grant consent or refuse. In this case, the bill is passed back to the House of Deputies where the review and voting process is repeated. If both houses pass the bill by a two-third majority it becomes an Act of Parliament overriding the King’s veto. Article 95 of the Constitution empowers both houses to submit legislation to the government in the form of a draft law.
The Constitution does not provide a strong system of checks and balances within which the Jordanian Parliament can assert its role in relationship to the Monarch. During the suspension of Parliament between 2001 and 2003, the scope of King Abdullah II’s power was demonstrated with the passing of 110 temporary laws. Two of such laws dealt with election law and were seen to reduce the power of Parliament.
The Senators have a term of four years and are appointed by the King and can be reappointed. A prospective Senator must be at least 40-year-old and have held senior positions in either the government or military. Appointed senators have included former prime ministers and members of the House of Representatives. Deputies are elected to serve a four-year term. A candidates must be older than 35 and cannot be related to the King and must not have any financial interests in governmental contracts.