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Iran Structure of Government

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  1. Iran Structure of Government

  2. Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran • Theocracy with some elements of democracy • Theocracy: a state dominated by religious leaders, who rule on the grounds that they are the only interpreters of God’s will and law. In Iran, theologians (or theocrats) control most important positions in the government. • Elements of democracy: Some of Iran’s high officials (such as the president) are directly elected by the people.

  3. Constitution • Written by the Assembly of Religious Experts following the 1979 Islamic Revolution (later revised in 1989 before Khomeini’s death • All laws must conform to “divine principles”: God, Divine Justice, Qur’an, the Resurrection, the Prophet Mohammad, the Twelve Imams, the eventual return of the Hidden Imam (the Mahdi) and Khomeini’s doctrine of jurist's guardianship

  4. Supreme Leader • Not elected by the citizens • Has authority to “determine the interests of Islam,” “supervise the implementation of general policy” and “set general guidelines for the Islamic Republic” (quotes from constitution) • Appoints head of Judiciary, 6 members of Guardian Council • Can eliminate presidential candidates and dismiss the elected president • Commander and Chief of the Military – can mobilize army, declare war, appoint/dismiss commanders of Revolutionary Guards and regular armed forces

  5. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei • www.topnews.com

  6. Guardian Council • 12-member unelected group • 6 religious clerics nominated by Supreme Leade • 6 are lawyers nominated by chief judge (who himself is appointed by the Supreme Leader) and approved by legislature (Majles) • Serve 6-yr terms, staggered (half the membership changes every 3 years); may be dismissed by Supreme Leader

  7. Guardian Council • Powers of Guardian Council: most influential body in Iran • Can veto legislation from Majles if it violates Islam or the constitution • Reviews all candidates seeking elected office, including President, the Majles, and Assembly of Experts (banned all but 6 of 1000 Reformist candidates in the 2005 Pres elections and disqualified 2,000 Majlis candidates in 2008. All females also blocked)

  8. Guardian Council www.bbc.co.uk

  9. Assembly of Experts • 86-person congress-like body of Islamic experts • Elections held every four years, from districts around the country • Members hold 8-year terms • Candidates subject to approval of Guardian Council

  10. Assembly of Experts • Selects Supreme Leader, monitors his activities to be sure he does not violate Islamic Law, and can dismiss him • Meetings of the Assembly are confidential (no transparency) • Currently dominated by conservative clerics

  11. Assembly of Experts

  12. President • Described in constitution as second-highest ranking official (after Supreme Leader) • Official titles: head of gov’t, head of exec branch • Elected by a popular election • elections held every 4 years • President cannot serve more than two terms • Presidential candidate requirements • Candidate must be a Shiia • Candidate must be approved by the Supreme Leader & Guardian Council

  13. Powers of the President By Law • Drafts annual budget • Can propose legislation to the Majles • Signs all international treaties and agreements • Chairs National Security Council • Appoints regional governors, mayors, ambassadors • Names director of National Iran Oil Company and other major companies • Head of the bureaucracy

  14. Limits on Powers of the President • The Supreme Leader is more powerful than president • President must have been approved by Supreme Leader to serve as president • Armed forces controlled by Supreme Leader, not the president • Major foreign policy issues controlled by Supreme Leader • Clerics and other senior religious leaders exercise much control over president (via Guardian Council, etc.)

  15. MahmoudAhmadinejad • www.iranchamber.com

  16. Legislature: Majles • Unicameral (though the Assembly of Experts functions as an upper house) • 290 seats, all directly elected in single-member districts • First created in 1906 Constitution, kept in 1979 • 1989 – Amendments weakened power • Powers: Enacting/changing laws (with approval of Guardian Council); approving budget, appointments, treaties; appointing 6 members of the Guardian Council (w/ the head of the Judiciary)

  17. Legislature • www.iranchamber.com

  18. The Judiciary • Two types of laws: sharia and qanun • qanun– laws passed by Majles with no religious basis, but still may not contradict religious law (sharia) • No judicial review – final authority does not rest with Constitution, but with sharia law itself

  19. Cleavages • Religion: 89% of Iranians are Shi’a Muslims, 10% are Sunni Muslim, 1% are combination of Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians • Constitution recognizes rights of religious minorities, but many have left since Islamic Revolution • It does not mention Sunni Muslims • 4• Ethnicity: 51% Persian, 24% Azeri, 7% Kurds, 3% Arabic

  20. Social Class • Peasantry and middle class support Islamic regime; Upper class tend to be more secular

  21. Conservative vs. Reformist • Conservatives: • prefer the way the regime was set up in 1979 • strict following of • do not trust Western governments; minimal modernity • political and religious decisions are the same; believe that clerics should run the government

  22. Conservative vs. Reformist • Reformists • believe political system should be reformed; disagree on specific reforms • advocate some degree of involvement/cooperation with Western countries • still support Shiism and believe it should be the basis for Iranian society, but do not believe that political leaders have to be clerics