Designing Decentralization in Jordan: Locating the Policy among the Politics

In: Middle East Law and Governance
E. J. Karmel Department of Political Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada,

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Jordan introduced legislation in 2015 to initiate a process of decentralization. Both the decision to decentralize as well as the form of decentralization that Jordan ultimately pursued have thus far been explained as regime efforts to reinforce its position and that of its clientelist base. While acknowledging that Jordan’s decision to decentralize was driven by broader political dynamics (including patron-clientelism), the article questions the extent to which these dynamics can account for the actual design of Jordan’s decentralization reforms. Through a detailed examination of the process through which the 2015 Decentralization Law was passed, the article argues that the Law was not only a result of patron-client politics, but also the product of a complex policy process. Drawing on this close-range investigation of the policy process leading to the Law, the article outlines some of the key parameters within which Jordanian policy is made, thereby contributing to the burgeoning literature that calls for policy to be brought into the study of authoritarian regimes.

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