Politics of Iran

Politics of Iran

The politics and government of Iran takes place in the framework of a republic with an Islamic ideology. The December 1979 constitution, and its 1989 amendment, define the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It declares that Shi'a Islam of the Jaafari (Usuli) school of thought is Iran's official religion.

Political conditions

As in almost all revolutions, the early days of the regime were characterized by political turmoil.Fact|date=March 2007 In November 1979 the American embassy was seized and its occupants taken hostage and kept captive for 444 days. The eight year Iran–Iraq War killed hundreds of thousands and cost many billions. By mid-1982, a succession of power struggles eliminated first the center of the political spectrum and then the leftists [Moin, "Khomeini" (2001), p.21-234] [Arjomand, Said Amir, The Turban for the Crown : The Islamic Revolution in Iran, Oxford University Press, c1988, p.144] [Bakhash, Shaul, Reign of the Ayatollahs : Iran and the Islamic Revolution by Shaul, Bakhash, Basic Books, c1984 p.158-9] leaving the Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters in power.

Iran's post-revolution challenges have included the imposition of economic sanctions and suspension of diplomatic relations with Iran by the United States because of the hostage crisis and other acts of terrorism that the U.S. government and some others have accused Iran of sponsoring. Emigration has cost Iran "two to four million entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople (and their capital)." [ [http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=23 "Iran's Economic Morass: Mismanagement and Decline under the Islamic Republic"] ISBN 0-944029-67-1] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6240287.stm Huge cost of Iranian brain drain By Frances Harrison] ] For this and other reasons Iran's economy has not prospered. Poverty rose in absolute terms by nearly 45% during the first 6 years of the Islamic revolution [ Based on the government's own Planning and Budget Organization statistics, from: Jahangir Amuzegar, `The Iranian Economy before and after the Revolution,` "Middle East Journal" 46, n.3 (summer 1992): 421)] and per capita income has yet to reach pre-revolutionary levels. [Low reached in 1995, from: Mackey, "Iranians", 1996, p. 366.] ["According to World Bank figures, which take 1974 as 100, per capita GDP went from a high of 115 in 1976 to a low of 60 in 1988, the year war with Iraq ended ..." (Keddie, "Modern Iran", 2003, p.274)]

The Islamic Republic Party was Iran's ruling political party and for some year its only political party until its dissolution in 1987. Iran had no functioning political parties until the Executives of Construction Party formed in 1994 to run for the fifth parliamentary elections, mainly out of executive body of the government close to the then-president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. After the election of Mohammad Khatami in 1997, more parties started to work, mostly of the reformist movement and opposed by hard-liners. This led to incorporation and official activity of many other groups, including hard-liners. The Iranian Government is opposed by a few armed political groups, including the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, the People's Fedayeen, and the Kurdish Democratic Party.

"For other political parties see List of political parties in Iran."

The Supreme Leader

The Supreme Leader of Iran is responsible for the delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran". The Supreme Leader is "Commander-in-Chief" of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has the only power to declare war. The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem--none have ever been dismissed.cite web| url=http://countrystudies.us/iran/81.htm| title="Iran - The Constitution"| first=Library of Congress| last=Federal Research Division| accessdate=2006-04-14] The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

Executive branch

The Constitution defines the President as the highest state authority "after" the Supreme Leader. The President is elected by universal suffrage, by those 15 years old and older [http://www.ilna.ir/shownews.asp?code=385408&code1=15] , for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. Currently, 10 Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of 21 ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence.

Legislative branch

The current legislature of Iran is unicameral. Before the Islamic Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, with the senate (upper house) half elected, half appointed by the Shah. The senate was removed in the new constitution.

Majles (Parliament)

The Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami (Islamic Consultative Assembly), comprises 290 members elected for four-year terms. The Majlis drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the national budget. All Majlis candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Council of Guardians.

Guardian Council

The Guardian Council is composed of 12 jurists, including six clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader, and six jurists elected by the Majlis from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial System. The Council interprets the constitution and may reject bills from parliament deemed incompatible with the "constitution" or "Sharia" (Islamic law). These are referred back to parliament for revision. In a controversial exercise of its authority, the Council has drawn upon a narrow interpretation of Iran's constitution to veto parliamentary candidates.Fact|date=August 2008

As of the early 1990s, the Guardian Council vets (approves) candidates for national election in Iran.Fact|date=August 2008

Expediency Council

The Expediency Council has the authority to mediate disputes between Majles and the Council of Guardians, and serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country.

Judicial branch

The Supreme Leader appoints the head of the Judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the supreme court and the chief public prosecutor. There are several types of courts including public courts that deal with civil and criminal cases, and "revolutionary courts" which deal with certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security. The decisions of the revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people. The Special Clerical Court functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Court’s rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

Assembly of Experts

The Assembly of Experts, which meets for at least two days, twice annually, [http://www.khobregan.ir/persian/ashnaee/07.htm] comprises 86 "virtuous and learned" clerics elected by adult suffrage for eight-year terms. Based on the laws approved by the first Assembly, the Council of Guardians has to determine candidates' ijtihad eligibility using a written examination. The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader and has the constitutional authority to remove the Supreme Leader from power at any time. As all of their meetings and notes are strictly confidential, the Assembly has never been known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader's decisions.

Political parties and elections

:"More info: Iranian presidential election, 2005"For the parliamentary elections of February 20, 2004, the Ministry of Interior Affairs announced a 50% turnout, the lowest in any general election since 1979. It was disputed by the Guardian Council, which claimed the result was closer to 60%. Conservative forces received 54% (156 seats), reformists received 14% of the vote (40 seats), and independents (34 seats); 60 seats were up for runoff election in May 2004. In the run-up to the election many reformist candidates, including about 80 members of the outgoing parliament, were disqualified by the Guardian Council; more than a 100 MPs protested by staging a sit-in in the parliament that lasted for about 3 weeks and ended to no avail. About 120 MPs then resigned and major reformist parties and groups stated they will not take part in the election but did not boycott it. The crisis resulted in a crack in the reformist front, when the Militant Clerics League, of which President Khatami is a member, announced they will participate in the election.:"More info: Iranian legislative election, 2008"

Political pressure groups and leaders

Active student groups include the pro-reform "Office for Strengthening Unity" and "the Union of Islamic Student Societies';
*Groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Ansar-e Hizballah, The Iranian Islamic Students Association, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, Islam's Students, and the Islamic Coalition Association. The conservative power base is said to be made up of a "web of Basiji militia members, families of war martyrs, some members of the Revolutionary Guard, some government employees, some members of the urban and rural poor, and conservative-linked foundations." [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran," Norton, (2005), p.353]
*opposition groups include the Liberation Movement of Iran and the Nation of Iran party;
*armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government include Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), People's Fedayeen, Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; the Society for the Defense of Freedom.

Iranian opposition groups have been severely repressed by the regime, an example being the Freedom party of Iran that is now "forbidden". Repression of opposition groups is becoming more harsh as of mid 2007. [ [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/07/a1ce3b05-64d7-4ddc-8d56-3181d0033564.html Iran has recently intensified its harassment of critics and people it deems threatening to the government, July 17, 2007] ] Exile parties however, are not controlled by the regime and are becoming stronger and more well recognised.Fact|date=February 2007

Hooshang Amirahmadi, (president of the American Iranian Council ran for President in the Ninth Presidential Election in Iran in June 2005, but the conservative and religious Guardian Council disqualified him for his American citizenship and democratic platform. [http://mideast.rutgers.edu/FACULTY/BIOS/Amirahmadi.html]


The military is charged with defending Iran's borders, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (a.k.a. "Sepah") is charged mainly with maintaining internal security.

Administrative divisions

Iran consists of 30 provinces ("ostaan-haa", singular: "ostan"): Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshahan, North Khorasan, Khorasan, South Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmadi, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qom, Qazvin, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan.The provinces are each headed by a governor general. The provinces are further divided into counties, districts, and villages.

Local government

Local councils are elected by public vote to 4-year terms in all cities and villages of Iran. According to article 7 Iran's Constitution, these local councils together with the Parliament are "decision-making and administrative organs of the State". This section of the constitution was not implemented until 1999 when the first local council elections were held across the country. Councils have many different responsibilities including electing mayors, supervising the activities of municipalities; studying the social, cultural, educational, health, economic, and welfare requirements of their constituencies; planning and coordinating national participation in the implementation of social, economic, constructive, cultural, educational and other welfare affairs.

Complexity of the system

According to current election laws, the Guardian Council oversees and approves electoral candidates for most national elections in Iran. The Guardian Council has 12 members, six clerics, appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists, elected by the Majlis from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial System, who is appointed by the Supreme Leader. According to the current law, the Guardian Council approves the Assembly of Experts candidates, which in turn supervise and elect the Supreme Leader.

The reformists say this system creates a closed circle of power. [http://www.mojahedin-enghelab.org/ShowItem.aspx?ID=54&p=1] Iranian reformists, such as Mohammad-Ali Abtahi have considered this to be the core legal obstacle for the reform movement in Iran. [ [http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/weblog/?id=2146308224 Mohammad Ali Abtahi - Weblog ] ] [ [http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/weblog/?id=2146308301 Mohammad Ali Abtahi - Weblog ] ] [ [http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/weblog/?id=2146307117 Mohammad Ali Abtahi - Weblog ] ] [ [http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/media.asp?id=10588595 Mohammad Ali Abtahi - Media - Articles ] ] [ [http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/weblog/?id=1779650752 Mohammad Ali Abtahi - Weblog ] ]

However, conservatives reject the existence of a circle, stating the ever-changing members of the Guardian Council and the Assembly of Experts, as well as human free-will, makes this system of checks and balances in power that exist in any system. [ [http://www.kayhannews.ir/851006/12.htm#other1206 روزنامه کیهان ] ]

Neither of these two laws are mandated by the constitution and are "ordinary" laws passed by the Parliament or the Assembly of Experts [http://www.khobregan.ir/persian/ashnaee/09.htm] , which therefore can theoretically be reversed. However, despite efforts of many political activists, it has been impossible to do so until now, as they have failed to win majority in the Assembly. [ [http://www.aftabnews.ir/vdciryat1yazw.html آفتاب - شورای مشورتی اصلاح طلبان برای شوراها ] ]

International organization participation

CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, SCO (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO WFTU, WEF,
WHO, WMO, WTO (observer)



* Ray Takeyh: "Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic", New York 2006, ISBN 978-0-8050-7976-0

ee also

* Constitution of Iran
* U.S.-Iran relations
* Iranian Foreign Affairs
* Iran-Israel relations
* Iran-Contra Affair
* Iran-Iraq War
* Prime Minister of Iran
* Haghani Circle and Politics of Iran
* Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran
* Human rights in Iran
* 1988 Massacre of Iranian Prisoners
* Censorship in Iran
* National Council of Resistance of Iran
* People's Mujahedin of Iran
* Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran
* Iranian reform movement

External links

Government Ministries of Iran

* [http://www.msrt.ir/ Ministry of Science, Research and Technology]
* [http://www.hbi.dmr.or.ir Ministry of Health and Medical Education]
* [http://www.agri-jahad.org Ministry of Agriculture]
* [http://www.ershad.gov.ir/ Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance]
* [http://www.irancommerceministry.com/ Ministry of Commerce]
* [http://www.moe.org.ir/ Ministry of Energy]
* [http://www.nioc.org/ Ministry of Petroleum]
* [http://www.hud.ir/ Ministry of Housing and Urban Development]
* [http://www.mim.gov.ir/ Ministry of Industry and Mines]
* [http://www.mod.ir/ Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces]
* [http://www.mrt.ir/New/Main.asp Ministry of Roads and Transportation]
* [http://www.irimlsa.ir Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs]
* [http://www.moi.ir/ Ministry of Interior]
* [http://www.dci.ir/ Ministry of Information and Communication Technology] , [http://www.iranpac.net.ir/ (2)]
* [http://www.icm.gov.ir/ Ministry of Cooperation]
* [http://www.medu.ir/ Ministry of Education]
* [http://www.mefa.gov.ir/ Ministry of Economic and Finance Affairs]

Other government links

* [http://www.freezones.ir/ Secretariat of The High Council of Iran Free Trade Industrial Zones]
* [http://www.cbi.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Central Bank]
* [http://www.iranculture.org Secretariat of The High Council of The Cultural Revolution]
* [http://www.spk-gov.ir/ Official Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran]
* [http://www.aeoi.org.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Atomic Energy Organization]
* [http://www.police.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Police Forces]
* [http://www.honar.ac.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of The Arts]
* [http://www.gsi-iran.org/ Islamic Republic of Iran Geological Survey Organization]
* [http://www.mporg.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Management and Planning Organization]
* [http://www.behzisty.org Islamic Republic of Iran Organization of Welfare]
* [http://www.nyoir.org Islamic Republic of Iran National Youth Organization]
* [http://www.irjpr.com/ Islamic Republic of Iran Judiciary Public Relations Bureau]
* [http://www.women.org.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Center for Affairs of Women's Participation]
* [http://www.ams.ac.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Medical Sciences]
* [http://www.iranmiras.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Cultural Heritage Organization]
* [http://www.dchq.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Headquarters for Combating Drugs]
* [http://www.persianacademy.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Persian Language and Literature]
* [http://www.irandoe.org/ Islamic Republic of Iran Department of Environment]
* [http://www.dialoguecentre.org/ Islamic Republic of Iran International Center for Diologue Among Civilizations]
* [http://www.rcs.ir/en Islamic Republic of Iran Red Crescent Society]
* [http://www.sport.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Physical Education Organization]
* [http://www.ias.ac.ir/ Islamic Republic of Iran Academy of Sciences] ---
* [http://www.css.ir/ Iran Center for Strategic Studies]
* [http://www.tisri.org/ Tehran International Studies and Research Institute]
* [http://www.hoqooq.com The Network of Iranian law in Persian, English and French]
* [http://www.droitconstitutionnel.com Constitutional law in French]
* [http://www.iran-law.com Iranian law in English]
* [http://www.droit.ws Iranian law in French]
* [http://www.IranNegah.com Video Archive of Iranian Politics]


* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm Iran who hold the power] = - B.B.C. In depth.

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