Domestic Instability and Legislative Development: Understanding the Sources of Parliamentary Weakness in Jordan

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Miriam Elman


Authoritarianism, Instability, Jordan, Legislatures

Subject Categories

Political Science


When faced with threats to its rule, Jordan's Hashemite monarchy has attempted to "weather the storm" by utilizing survival strategies that involve the kingdom's legislature. Yet these strategies take various forms. Some aim to restrict the role of Jordan's legislature, while others enhance the power of this institution. What explains this variation, and why has the monarchy employed different strategies in response to different threats? This dissertation argues that the specific nature of the regime's legislative survival strategy has depended on the nature of the threat that it faces. Threats that originate among the regime's allies and support base result in institutional concessions that strengthen the role of the country's legislature in an attempt to co-opt those constituencies on which the regime depends the most. By contrast, instability that originates among the regime's opposition prompts efforts to restrict representative institutions, thus minimizing the influence of the regime's most vocal opponents. This dissertation explores the survival strategies that Jordan's ruling regime employed during four periods of instability: its confrontation with radical political parties in the 1950s, the 1970 civil war, the 1989 IMF riots, and the 1991 Gulf Crisis. Far from being short term fixes, moreover, the survival strategies that the regime utilizes have had lasting effects on legislative politics in Jordan. This project thus argues that the weakness of Jordan's parliament today has resulted from the legacies of the various periods of political instability that have occurred throughout the country's history.


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