Politics of Iran


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Politics of Iran

  1. 1. Benedict “Viktor” Gombocz
  2. 2.  Iran’s political system functions in a theocratic structure of Syncretic politics that is ruled by an Islamist ideology.  The Islamic Republic constitution of December 1979 and its 1989 change identifies the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political, economic, and social order, proclaiming that the country’s official religion is Shia Islam of the Twelver school of thought.  Iran has an elected president, parliament (Majlis), an “Assembly of Experts” (which selects Iran’s Supreme Leader) and local councils.  Under the constitution, all nominees running for these positions need to be approved by the Guardian Council (excluding those running for “Assembly of Experts”) before they can be elected.  Additionally, there are nontransparent unelected associations (normally under control of the Supreme Leader) who are out to “protect the state’s Islamic character”.  The majority of Iranian political parties were outlawed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
  3. 3.  Capital (and largest city): Tehran  Official languages: Persian  Spoken languages: Persian, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Lori, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Balochi, Arabic, Turkmen  Demonym: Iranian  Government: Unitary state, Islamic republic  Supreme Leader: Ali Khamenei  President: Hassan Rouhani  First Vice President: Eshaq Jahangiri  Speaker of the Parliament: Ali Larijani  Chief Justice: Sadeq Larijani
  4. 4.  Muslim (official) 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%)  Other (including Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i) 2%
  5. 5.  The Supreme Leader is the highest political office in the Islamic Republic; there have been two: the Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei.  Historically, the Supreme Leader has stayed distant from election politics.  Conversely, in the election of 2009, some of Ali Khamenei’s statements were identified by many to prefer the incumbent nominee.  The Supreme Leader selects the heads of many powerful positions – the commandant of the armed forces, the manager of the national radio and television network, the heads of the key spiritual establishments, the prayer leaders in city mosques, and the associates of national security councils involved in defence and foreign affairs.  He also chooses the chief judge, the chief prosecutor, special courts and, with the chief judge’s assistance, half of the Guardian Council’s twelve jurists; the Guardian Council is the dominant body that determines what bills may be passed into law and who may run for president or parliament.  Also according to Iran’s constitution, the Supreme Leader affirms the president’s power.  He may reject parliament’s laws; traditionally, he allows presidential runners to declare their candidacy.
  6. 6.  The Iranian constitution names the President as the most powerful state authority after the Supreme Leader.  The President is elected through universal suffrage, by those aged eighteen and older, for a four-year term.  Presidential runners must be approved by the Council of Guardians before they run.  After he or she is elected, the President must be confirmed by the Supreme Leader.  The President is liable for applying the Constitution and exercising administrative powers, excluding issues related directly to the Supreme Leader.  He also nominates and manages the Council of Ministers, organizes government decisions, and chooses government policies to be put before the legislature.  Ten VPs serve under the President, along with a cabinet of twenty-one ministers, all of whom need to get the legislature’s approval.  In contrast to executive branches of other states, Iran’s executive branch does not have power over the armed forces.  While the President nominates the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is normal for the President to attain the Supreme Leader’s approval for these two ministers before he presents them before the legislature for a vote of confidence.
  7. 7.  Iran’s current legislature is unicameral.  Prior to the Iranian Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, with the Senate (upper house) half elected, half nominated by the Shah.  The new constitution removed the Senate.
  8. 8.  Iran’s parliament consists of 290 members, who are elected to terms of four years.  The Parliament drafts legislation and approves international treaties and the national budget.  All Parliament nominees and all the assembly’s legislation needs to be approved by the Council of Guardians.
  9. 9.  The Guardian Council comprises twelve jurists; half of them are clerics named by the Supreme Leader, while the other half are jurists elected by the Majles from among the Muslim jurists appointed by the Head of the Judicial System.  The Council interprets the Constitution and can discard bills from Parliament believed to be unsuited with the Constitution or Sharia (Islamic Law).  These are submitted back to parliament for changes.  The Council, in a contentious exercise of its power, has drawn upon a slim understanding of Iran’s constitution to reject parliamentary nominees.  As of the early 1990s, the Guardian Council vets (approves) runners for national election in Iran.  According to the CIA World Factbook, the Guardian Council is part of the executive branch.
  10. 10.  The Expediency Council has the power to arbitrate disagreements between the Majlis and the Council of Guardians, and serves as the Supreme Leader’s consultative body; this makes it one of the nation’s highest ruling bodies.  Its affiliates include heads of the three government branches, the religious associates of the Guardian Council and many other associates named by the Supreme Leader for terms of three years.  Members of the cabinet and parliamentary leaders also serve as provisional affiliates when matters under their judicature are undergoing review.
  11. 11.  The Supreme Leader chooses the head of the Judiciary, who in turn chooses the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor.  There are a few kinds of courts, such as public courts that handle civil and criminal cases, and “revolutionary” courts which handle specific types of offenses, such as crimes against national security.  The revolutionary court’s decisions are final; they may not be appealed.  The Special Clerical Court deals with felonies claimed to have been committed by clerics, though it has also dealt with cases involving lay people.  The Special Clerical Court works independently of the usual judicial frame; it is only answerable to the Supreme Leader.  The Court’s rulings are final; they may not be appealed.  It has also come to the attention of associations including the United Nations and the World Criminal Court that a very difficult system of bribery has developed due to the high crime rate.
  12. 12.  The Assembly of Experts, which assembles for at least two days, twice per year, has eighty-six “virtuous and learned” priests elected through adult suffrage for terms of eight years.  Based on the laws the first Assembly approved, the Council of Guardians needs to determine runners’ eligibility with the use of a written exam.  The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader; they have the legitimate power to oust the Supreme Leader from power at any time.  Because all of their gatherings and notes are strictly secret, the Assembly has never had any history of defying the Supreme Leader’s decisions.
  13. 13.  Born 17 July 1939 in Mashhad.  Supreme Leader of Iran since 4 June 1989, and a Shia Marja’.  Also served as the President of Iran from 1981- 1989.  Was ranked #26 in the list of “World’s Most Powerful People” in 2010.  As an absolute ruler, he has been portrayed as one of only three individuals with “important influence” during the Islamic Republic of Iran’s history.  Was the victim of a death threat in June 1981 that injured his right arm, even though the toughest opposition to his leadership to date has been the Iranian election demonstrations of 2009 after the 2009 presidential elections, during which he strongly backed president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; they have since had a separation.
  14. 14.  Born 12 November 1948 in Sorkheh.  7th and current President of Iran; is seen as politically moderate.  Has been a member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999, member of the Expediency Council since 1991, member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989, and head of the Center for Strategic Research since 1992.  Has also served as deputy speaker of the 4th and 5th terms of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis – Iranian Parliament) and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989-2005; also presided over Iran’s former nuclear negotiating team in the later post, where he was the country’s main negotiator with the EU three – UK, France, and Germany – on the Iranian nuclear program.  On 7 May 2013, he registered for the presidential election that took place on 14 June 2013; promised that if elected, he would arrange a “civil rights charter”, repair the economy, and improve tense relations with the West.  Took a significant lead as early vote counts came in.  Was elected President of Iran on 15 June and defeated Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghaliabaf and four other challengers; was sworn in on 3 August 2013.
  15. 15.  Born 10 January 1957 in Kouhshah, Hormozgan Province.  First VP of President Hassan Rouhani’s government.  Was previously the minister of industries and mines from 1997-2005 under President Mohammad Khatami; was the governor of Isfahan Province prior to that.  Also served as an MP for two terms.  Graduated from the University of Kerman with a degree in physics.  Participated in revolutionary groups before the Iranian Revolution and once was injured by the forces of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  Later obtained his second Ph.D from Iran University of Science and Technology in industrial engineering.
  16. 16.  Born 3 June 1958 in Najaf.  Current chairman of the Parliament of Iran.  Served as the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 15 August 2005-20 October 2007, having been nominated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and replaced Hassan Rowhani.  Acceptance of his resignation from the secretary post was announced on 20 October 2007 by Gholamhossein Elham, the spokesman of the Iranian government, saying that his earlier resignations were rejected by President Ahmadinejad.  Is one of the two envoys of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the council; the other is Hassan Rowhani.  In his tenure as secretary, he efficiently functioned as the principal speaker on matters of national security, such as the Iranian nuclear program.
  17. 17.  Born 12 March 1960 in Najaf.  Current Chief Justice of Iran since 30 June 2009.  Was one of the twelve affiliates of the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran for eight years.  Depicted as “relatively junior” or “inexperienced cleric” with “close ties to Iran’s military and intelligence agencies”, he was nominated head of Iran’s judicial system by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on 15 August 2009.  Denounced demonstrators and those who had uncertainties in the 2009 presidential election results; called the protests “illegal” and any doubts “baseless”.  Is the son of Ayatollah Hashem Amoli and the brother of Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament.  Speaks fluent Persian, Arabic, and English.