Politics in Iran

Initially, Iran was a monarchy, but this aspect was changed during the 1979 revolution. The inspiration for instilling a new form of government was spearhead by Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini commenced the formulation of an Islamic government while he was in exile during the early 1970s. His main objective was that the country’s government would be entrusted to the Islamic clergy; who were believed to have been appropriately trained in Islamic jurisprudence and theology (Valbjorn & Bank, 2011).  His ideas were taken and used in the drafting of the country’s constitution, which was then ratified through a popular vote in 1979.

Just like the United States, Iran has various jurisdictions in its governmental structure. There is an elected president, legislature and judiciary. However, the major difference that exists is that Iran is a theocracy.  Based on the current constitution, the country’s laws and regulations have to be aligned with Islamic criteria (Gheissari, 2009). The supreme leader is tasked with the responsibility of political and ideological control over a system that is dominated by clerics that tend to overshadow major functions of the state.

Iran’s politics are dominated by a definite power structure. The supreme leader seems to be the highest ranking authority in the country’s government. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the current supreme leader. His appointment came as a succession of Ayatollah Khomeini, who was considered as the father of the country’s political revolution. The supreme leader has the responsibility of delineating and supervising the general policies of the country (Harvard University, 2016). This means that he is responsible for the country’s both foreign and domestic policies. The supreme leader also bears control of the security and intelligence operations as he is the commander in chief of the armed forces. This means that he is the only individual with the authority of declaring peace or war. The supreme leader also has control over judiciary appointments and dismissals and also appointments in the state television and radio networks.

The president ranks as the second highest official in the Iranian government. He is not there for life like the supreme leader; he is only elected for four years and can only be in office for two consecutive terms. The president’s powers tend to be circumscribed by the country’s constitution that subordinates the absolute executive branch to the Supreme Leader (Harvard University, 2016). Nonetheless, the president is the public face of the country’s government. He helps in directing of social programs and economic policies, and he normally represents the country in varied international forums.

The country’s parliament is comprised of 290 members that are elected every four years by the public. The main affairs of the parliament are to approve the budget, ratify international treaties and draft legislations. However, the parliament is not entirely autonomous as the Guardian Council tends to hold it in check on various occasions. The Guardian Council normally comprises of 12 jurists, of whom six are appointed by the supreme leader, and the remaining number is recommended by the head of the judiciary (Valbjorn & Bank, 2011). This council has the authority to interpret the constitution.

Other relevant organs in the government include the expediency council, assembly of experts and the judiciary. The judiciary is mostly under the control of the supreme leader as he makes the major appointments. The assembly of experts, on the other hand, appoints the supreme leader and it has been vested with the authority to remove him in case he is not deemed capable of fulfilling his duties (Gheissari, 2009).


Gheissari, A. (2009). Contemporary Iran:Economy, Society, Politics (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harvard University,. (2016). Politics in Iran. Iranmatters.belfercenter.org. Retrieved 7 December 2016, from http://iranmatters.belfercenter.org/politics-iran

Valbjorn, M. & Bank, A. (2011). The New Arab Cold War: rediscovering the Arab dimension of Middle East regional politics. Review Of International Studies, 38(01), 3-24.

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