On the pledge of allegiance and the Constitution

14-04-2021 04:51 PM

By Fahed Khitan

I have opposed the idea of the new social contract adopted by the liberals in Jordan, around which a big debate arose after it was declared by former prime minister Omar Razzaz’s government.

This is not because I oppose progress, but because I believe that the Jordanian Constitution is the only contract that organizes the nation’s affairs and the relationship between its institutions. On the other hand, the route of reform and restoration is the development of legislation, embracing diversity and democracy, and initiating a new sociopolitical project to renew social concepts.

As I have disagreed with the new social contract, I find it hard to agree with the concept of the pledge of allegiance as a definition of the relationship between the Throne and the people.

The pledge happened only once, as a perpetual concept, when the Hashemites, led by Prince “King” Abdullah I, pledged their loyalty to Jordan and he launched the idea of establishing the nation which he dreamt would be the core of the Greater Arab Nation. His efforts were thwarted by the French/British occupation and treaty of partition and the Balfour Declaration that displaced Palestine from the body of the nation in favor of the Zionist occupation.

Jordanians of all social strata pledged loyalty to King Abdullah I as ruler of Jordan, the nation was formed, and a “basic law” was set in 1928, which developed later into a modernized constitution imbued by the best monarchical values in the world.

Since then, a constitutional accord was established between the people and the Hashemites which is summarized by the first article of the Constitution, which states: “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an independent sovereign Arab State. It is indivisible and inalienable and no part of it may be ceded. The people of Jordan form a part of the Arab Nation, and its system of government is parliamentary with a hereditary monarchy.”

The Throne in Jordan is hereditary in the family of King Abdullah II, and the authority of the King is transferred to his eldest son to his eldest son, and so forth.

This means that the King of Jordan is subject to the provisions of the Constitution and cannot take up his Constitutional authorities before he swears his oath before the Parliament that derives its legitimacy from him being the lynchpin in the Jordanian political system.

The King practices his authority through his government and with a few exceptions laid out in the Constitution, every Royal declaration is made through the prime minister and the concerned ministers.

All Hashemite kings have sworn an oath before Parliament before taking up their constitutional powers, unlike other nations that don’t have constitutions and depend on tribal pledges when the ruler takes over his role.

This constitutional situation that coordinates authority in Jordan and the appointment of monarchs has been stable since Abdullah I till this day. This stability has characterized the unique relationship between the Throne and the people within the Arab world.

The pledge of allegiance is a historical value that resides in the Jordanian conscience and is recalled as a foundational event. It is a Jordanian national icon that has been framed later by a proper Constitution that governs matters of the Throne and the transition of power in the Kingdom.

The Jordanian society today is no longer the same one it was one hundred years ago. Today it is a contemporary entity with a united national spirit, modern civil institutions, and citizenship values governed by modern legislation approved by Parliament and implemented by an undisputed central authority.

A century later, and after many achievements in building a modern constitutional state, no Jordanian would agree to go back to the time of simple pledges.

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