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Political Institutions of Iran A theocracy at work.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Institutions of Iran A theocracy at work."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Institutions of Iran A theocracy at work

2 Political Parties  Constitution legalized political parties, but they were not allowed until Muhammad Khatami’s election (1997)  The Iranian Militant Clerics Society – left wing reform party led by Muhammad Khatami.  Khatami president from 1997-2005  Several prominent politicians belong to this party including former Majlis speaker, and a vice-president  Candidate in 2005, Mehdi Karroubi, came in third  The Islamic Iran Participation Front – reformist party led by Khatami’s brother, Muhammad Reza Khatami  Founded in 1998, motto “Iran for all Iranians”  Did well in 2000 Majlis elections  Guardian Council barred many members from running in 2004 so membership declined

3 Political Parties II  Executives of Construction Party – founded by several former cabinet members of President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani  Important supporter of Rafsanjani and his political platform  Rafsanjani lost election runoff to Ahmadinejad by a large margin  The Islamic Society of Engineers – member of the conservative alliance, party of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who secured office in presidential election of 2005  The “society” however did not support Ahmadinejad in the election, their candidate was Ali Larijani, who lost in first round

4 Reformist Parties  Khordad Front ( Alliance between Iranian Militant Clerics Society & Islamic Iran Participation Front ) – the alliance helped win reelection for Khatami in 2000.  The Second Khordad Front did not survive in 2004 elections as Guardian Council banned many reformist candidates from Majlis elections  Liberation Movement – Moderate party, party founded by Mehdi Bazargan (Khomeini’s PM), in 1961 it was banned in 2002 as subversive organization  National Front – headed by Mossadeq in 1950, it was banned in late 1980s  Exile parties – Mojahedin (guerrilla group fought the shah); Fedayin (Marxist guerrillas modeled after Che Guevara); Tudeh (communist party)

5 Elections  Citizens over 15 may vote  National elections held for the following:  Assembly of Religious Experts  Representative to the Majlis  President  Elections to Majlis and President are by plurality, winner-take all  Elections are done over two rounds  First round narrows field down to 2 candidates

6 Elections II  Majlis Election of 2004  Feb. 20, 2004  Council of Guardians banned thousands of candidates from mostly reformist parties  Looking for loyalty to the “guardianship of the jurist” and ability to win  Out of a possible 285 seats (5 reserved for religious minorities) reformist could only introduce 191 candidates  51% - Official voter turnout  Conservative candidates won 70% of seats  Presidential Election of 2005  Khatami steps down after serving two terms  Guardian Council disqualifies about 1000 candidates  Only 7 candidates run  Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  Rafsanjani received 21% of the vote compared to Ahmadinejad’s 19% in the first round  In second round runoff Ahmadinejad won with 62% of the vote  Rafsanjani suffered from being unable to organize reformist vote behind him

7 Interest Groups  It is difficult to distinguish between parties and interest groups in Iran  Most exile parties have members in Iran that work for their benefit  Interest Groups  Islamic Association of Women  Green Coalition  Workers’ House  Interest group for factory workers, have a political party as well, Islamic Labor Party  Hold a May Day rally every year, turned into protest in 1999 against conservative policies to water-down labor laws

8 Mass Media  During and shortly after revolution 27 newspapers in total were shut down  In 1981 Majlis passed law making it illegal to use “pen and speech” against the government  Some restrictions have been lifted  Rafsanjani government allowed for debate in press on some controversial issues  Khatami administration issued permits to new publications in attempt to establish independent press  Many newspapers and magazines privately owned

9 Mass Media II  Freedom of Press still a major issue between conservatives and reformists  In 2002, some 60 pro-reform newspapers were shut down  Iran’s elite are well-educated, and private media cater to their needs and interests  Radio & TV are government-run, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) (Supreme Leader is head)

10 Government Institutions  Jurist’s Guardianship  Supreme Leader  Guardian Council  Assembly of Religious Experts  Expediency Council  President & Cabinet  Majlis  Judicial Branch  Military

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12 Velayat-e faqih (Jurist’s guardianship)  The principle instituted by Khomeini of overarching authority for different government institutions:  Supreme Leader  Guardian Council  Assembly of Religious Experts  Expediency Council  This authority is all-encompassing and is over whole community based on their ability to understand shari’a and their commitment to champion the rights of the people

13 Supreme Leader  Position created for Khomeini, currently held by Ali Khameini  Powers of Supreme Leader:  Elimination of presidential candidates  Dismissal of the president  Command armed forces  Declares war & peace  Appointment and removal of major administrators and judges  Nominates six members of Guardian Council  Appoints many non-governmental directors, such as radio/TV and semi-public foundations  Responsibilities of Supreme Leader:  faqih – he is the leading Islamic jurist to interpret shari’a and religious documents  Links three branches of government together  “Determining the interests of Islam”

14 Guardian Council  12 members  All Male  6 members appointed by Supreme Leader  6 members nominated by chief judge, approved by Majlis  Responsibilities  They represent theocratic principles within the government  Review bills passed by Majlis to ensure they conform with shari’a  Guardian Council and Supreme Leader together exercise principle of jurist’s guardianship (Make sure all democratic bodies adhere to Islamic laws & beliefs)  Power to decide who can compete in elections  In 2004 & 2005 disqualified thousands of candidates for both Majlis and presidential elections

15 Assembly of Religious Experts  Expanded in 1989 to an 86 man house  Directly elected by the people  4 year terms  Members originally required to have seminary degree equivalent to a master’s, 1998 revision now allows non-clerics to stand for Assembly – candidates still subject to approval by Council of Guardians  Responsibilities  Broad constitutional interpretation  Elected Khomeini’s successor (Khamenei)  Reserve right to remove supreme leader

16 Expediency Council  Created by Khomeini  Main purpose to “referee” disputes between the Guardian Council and the Majlis  Began as a 13-member group including: president, chief judge, speaker of Majlis, and six jurists from the Guardian Council  1989, Expediency Council passes some bills, and is institutionalized by constitutional amendments  Currently consists of 32 members  It may originate its own legislation  Not all members are clerics  Still appointed by Supreme Leader  Collectively most powerful men in Iran

17 President & the Cabinet  Iran is not a presidential system, therefore the executive branch does not have the same authority as presidents in presidential systems such as U.S., Mexico, and Nigeria  President does represent highest official representing democratic principles in Iran  Chief executive, highest state official after Supreme Leader  Directly elected every 4 years  Constitution still requires the president to be a Shi’ite and uphold Islamic principles  All six presidents of the Islamic Republic have been clerics except for Abol- Hasan Bani-Sadr who was ousted in 1981 for criticizing the regime as a dictatorship

18 President’s Power  Devising the Budget  Supervising economic matters  Proposing legislation to the Majlis  Executing policies  Signing of treaties, laws, and agreements  Chairing the National Security Council  Selecting vice presidents and cabinet ministers  Appointing provincial governors, town mayors, and ambassadors

19 Cabinet’s Power  Conducts the day-to-day work of governance  Most new laws and the budget are initiated and devised by cabinet members  Then submitted to parliament for approval, modification, or rejection

20 Bureaucracy  President heads up the bureaucracy that has doubled since 1979  Provides jobs for high school and college graduates  Clergy dominates the bureaucracy, head ministers all clerics (Intelligence, Interior, Justice, Culture & Islamic Guidance)  Agencies  Culture and Islamic Guidance – censures media  Intelligence – chief security organization  Heavy Industry – manages factories  Reconstruction – expands social services and sees that Islam extends to countryside

21 Semipublic Institutions  Theoretically autonomous  In reality they are directed by clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader  Usually called “foundations” (bonyads)  Foundation of the Oppressed  Martyrs Foundation  Foundation for the Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works  Foundations are tax exempt  Reputed to have a great deal of wealth  Most property they supervise was confiscated from pre-1979 elite

22 Legislature: MAJLIS  Unicameral legislature  Assembly of Religious Experts has served similar to an upper house since 1989 (Both groups are elected representatives)  Created by Constitution of 1906, however Constitution of 1979 and 1989 amendments weakened the Majlis power  290 seats  All directly elected through single member districts by citizens over 15 years old

23 Majlis Authority  Powers of Majlis  Enacting or Changing Laws (with approval of Guardian Council)  Interpretation of legislation (as long as it does not contradict judicial authorities)  Appointment of 6 of 12 Guardian Council members from list made by chief judge  Investigation of the cabinet ministers and public complaints against the executive and judiciary  Removal of cabinet ministers, but not the president  Approval of budget, cabinet appointments, treaties, & loans

24 Majlis elections  Election of 2000  Reformists fill seats through coalition of reformist parties (Khordad Front)  Reformists win 80% of the vote, most secular voters whose parties were banned supported the reformists.  Election of 2004  Guardian Council bans thousands of reformist candidates  Overwhelming victory for conservatives  Control of the Majlis flips from the reformists to the conservative faction

25 Judiciary  Distinction between two types of law: shari’a & qanun  Judicial review does not exist in Iran  Principle of jurist’s guardianship means that the Supreme Leader, the Guardian Council, and the Assembly of Religious Experts have final say regarding interpretation of law  Ultimate legal authority does not rest in the constitution, but in shari’a law itself  Because interpreting shari’a is difficult it has been applied in different ways at various times  Because of Ayatollah Khomeini interpretation of shari’a came to be the standard that would influence all succeeding Iranian leaders

26 Judiciary II  Islamic Republic  Islamicized the judiciary code to interpret shari’a strictly  Retribution Law  Permitted families to demand “blood money” – compensation to the victim’s family from those responsible for someone’s death  Mandated the death penalty for actions such as adultery, homosexuality, drug dealing and alcoholism  Set up unequal treatment between men & women, and Muslims & non-Muslims  Banned interest rates on loans, viewed as usury, which means lenders take advantage of people seeking loans

27 Law  Shari 'a  Islamic law  Considered to be foundation of all Islamic civilization  Embodies a vision of a community in which all Muslims are brothers and sisters subscribe to the same moral values  Shari’a supersedes all other law in Iranian society  Supreme leaders authority and the jurist’s guardianship based on importance of shari’a  Qunan  No sacred basis  Statutes passed by Majlis  “the People’s Law”  Can never contradict shari’a  Guardian Council & Supreme Leader must make sure all laws apply interpretations of shari’a

28 Law & Justice  Khomeini realized that despite the influence of shari’a judges, the regime did need a centralized judicial system to tend to matters of justice in an orderly manner  The interpretation of shari’a was broadened so that the harsh penalties of the Retribution Law are rarely carried out  Modern methods of punishment are more common than harsh public retribution  Regime retained the shah’s court structure  Appeals system  Hierarchy of state courts  Central government’s right to appoint and dismiss judges

29 Military  Revolutionary Guard – established by Khomeini after the revolution, a parallel military force to the shah’s traditional armed forces that were the 5 th largest at the time  Commanders of the Revolutionary Guard are appointed by the Supreme Leader  According to the constitution, the regular army defends the borders, the Revolutionary Guard protects the republic  Both were greatly strained during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s  Basij – volunteer militia of those to young to serve created during Iran-Iraq War.  Martyred by Khomeini against the invading Iraqi troops  After the war they became the Supreme Leader’s private militia  Currently serve as the Islamic Republic’s “morality police” (Comparable to Hitler Nazi Youth)  Iran’s armed forces currently have over 500,000 active troops making it the 8 th largest military in the world

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31 Theocratic & Democratic Elements of Iran’s Government Structure Structure Supreme Leader Supreme Leader Theocratic Characteristics Jurist guardianship; ultimate interpreter of shari’a; appointed for life Jurist guardianship; ultimate interpreter of shari’a; appointed for life Democratic Characteristics Guardian Council Jurist guardianship; interpreter of shari’a; six member selected by the Supreme Leader Jurist guardianship; interpreter of shari’a; six member selected by the Supreme Leader Six members selected by the Majlis; which is popularly elected, indirect democratic tie Assembly of Religious Experts Jurist guardianship; interpreter of shari’a Jurist guardianship; interpreter of shari’a Directly elected by the people Directly elected by the people

32 Theocratic & Democratic Elements of Iran’s Government Structure Structure Expediency Council Expediency Council Theocratic Characteristics Appointed by the Supreme Leader; most members are clerics Appointed by the Supreme Leader; most members are clerics Democratic Characteristics Some members are not clerics Some members are not clerics Majlis Majlis Responsibility to uphold shari’a Responsibility to uphold shari’a Directly elected by the people; pass qanun (statutes) Directly elected by the people; pass qanun (statutes) Judiciary Judiciary Courts held to shari’a law; subject to the judicial judgments of the Supreme Leader, Guardian Council Courts held to shari’a law; subject to the judicial judgments of the Supreme Leader, Guardian Council Court structure similar to those in democracies; “modern” penalties, such as fines and imprisonment Court structure similar to those in democracies; “modern” penalties, such as fines and imprisonment

33 Public Policy: Policy-Making Factions  Conservatives  Created by often contradictory influences of theocracy & democracy  Conservatives uphold principles of regime established in 1979  Against modernization because it threatens Shi’ism  Wary of western influence  Political & religious decision should be synonymous  Support right of clerics to run the political system  Reformists  Believe political system needs reform (but disagree on what reforms)  Advocate some degree of international involvement with western countries  Believe Shi’ism is important basis of Iranian society  Support idea that political leaders do not have to be clerics

34 Public Policy: Policy-Making Factions II  Statists  Government should take active role in the economy  Not necessarily communists  Policy goals include:  Redistribute land  Redistribute wealth  Eliminate unemployment  Finance Social Welfare Programs  Price restrictions on Consumer goods  Free-marketers  Similar market principles to the US, but in a theocratic/democratic state  Liberal Economic Policies  Remove price controls  Lower business taxes  Encourage private enterprise  Balance the budget

35 Public Policy  Majority of policy issues among factions stem from the “theocratic vs. democratic” debate  Policy issues have recently led to a drain of the “best & brightest” from Iran do to frustration with government  Policy-making factional disagreements over relationship with US & Economic issues

36 US Relations  Reformists & Conservatives constantly disagree regarding diplomatic relations with the US  Ex: Following 9-11-01, President Khatami immediately offered his condolences to American people, but Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei forbid public debate about improving relations with US, and implied Americans brought the situation on themselves  Nuclear Weapons  For energy or defense?

37 Economic Policy  Oil creates vertical divide among elites in Iran  Elites with close ties to the oil state vs.  Traditional sector of the clergy  Instability of Oil prices effects the economy of this rentier state  Attitudes toward supranational organizations (WTO, UN, World Bank) are mixed. Iran’s application for admittance to the WTO in 1996 rejected  Based on difficulties in making foreign investments in the country  US opposed Iran’s entry into WTO  Economic policy characterized by internal bickering  Ex: Bill drafted in 2002 by Majlis would have allowed foreigners to own as much as 100% of any firm in the country (up from 48%). The bill came from reformists, the bill was not approved by Guardian Council. Conservatives worry about influence of secular prosperity on Shi’ism


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