Escaping the "King's Dilemma": a Comparative Study of the Moroccan and Jordanian Monarchies



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



To address the issue of modernization in traditional societies, Samuel Huntington developed a theory he called the “king’s dilemma.” This theory argues that monarchies cannot maintain their absolute power and modernize their countries. Huntington believes that there is no future for strong monarchies. This paper discusses the possibility that the Jordanian and Moroccan monarchies have escaped his prediction. These monarchies have used similar tactics in order to maintain their power. The very existence of both modern states is intertwined with the existence of the monarchy. They use a combination of nationalism, fear, religion, and the very political systems they created in order to maintain a supportive base and keep themselves in power. The monarchies of Jordan and Morocco found another path than those suggested by Huntington. The delicate balance game they play between giving their people the illusion of power while maintaining their own requires a great deal of political savvy by the monarchs but for the last 60 years, they have been successful. While it is impossible to predict the future, it seems likely that any unrest in these two countries can and will be managed by the monarchy. So far, any ire felt by the public has been focused on the political elite below the monarchy. King Abdullah II of Jordan and King Mohammad VI of Morocco have maintained both their power and their stability by creating another option to the “king’s dilemma.”



Morocco, Jordan, Monarchy, king's dilemma