File - AP Comparative Government

Iran: Government
AP Comparative Government
 Iran is a highly centralized unitary state
 There are some provincial, district, and local governments, but they
have very little power
 The blending of Theocratic and democratic ideas lead to a complex
system of government
 The supreme leader, the Guardian Council, the Assembly of
Religious Experts and the Expediency Council do not fit into the
three-branch model of government set forth by the Iranian
 All four agencies have broad executive, legislative, and judicial
powers that allow them to supersede all other positions and bodies
within the government
 According to Ayatollah Khomeini, each office has all-encompassing
authority over the whole community based upon the understanding
of the sharia and their commitment to support the rights of the
 This is known as jurist’s guardianship
 Based upon the Constitution of 1979 (amended in 1989), Ayatollah
Khomeini was given the role of Supreme Leader until his death
 After his death, his authority was to pass to a leadership council of
two or three senior clerics
The Supreme
 This did not happen and Ali Khamenei was appointed for life to be the
Supreme Leader of Iran
 The Supreme Leader is given many powers
 He is the faqih: The Islamic jurist who is to interpret the meaning of
religious documents and sharia
 He links the three branches of government together
 He is also to determine the interests of Islam
 Powers of the Supreme Leader include:
Elimination of presidential candidates
Dismissal of the president
Command of the armed forces
Declaration of war and peace
Appointment and removal of major administrators and judges
Nomination of six members of the Guardian Council
Appointment of non-governmental directors
 Radio-televisions, semi-public foundations
 The Supreme leader holds ultimate power in the government
 This is despite being considered only the head of state
 This Guardian Council represents the theocratic principles of Iran
 The Council is made up of twelve male clerics
 6 members are appointed directly by the Supreme Leader and the final
6 members are appointed by the chief judge and confirmed by the
 It is the job of the council to verify that laws passed by the Majles
conform to sharia law
 They also have the power to determine who can run in elections
 Along with the supreme leader the Council exercises the principle
of jurist’s guardianship
 This is the enforcement of Islamic beliefs and laws amongst all
democratic bodies
 The Assembly is directly elected by the people every four years
and is composed of 86 men
The Assembly
of Religious
 They have the power, along with the Council and Supreme Leader,
to interpret the Constitution
 The Assembly was responsible for electing Ali Khamenei as Supreme
 They also gave themselves the authority to dismiss Khamenei if he did
not fill the shoes of Khomeini
 All members are subject to approval by the Guardian Council
 It was once required that all members have a seminary degree
 Opposition leader Hashemi Rafsanjani was picked as the leader of
the Assembly in 2007, but was forced to step down in 2011
 The Expediency Council was designed by Khomeini to mediate
disputes between the Majles and the Guardian Council
 It currently has 32 members and now has the power to originate its
own legislation
 All members are appointed by the Supreme Leader
 Members of the Expediency Council are largely considered to be the
most powerful men in the country
 The president of Iran does not have the same authorities the U.S.,
Mexico, and Nigeria
The Executive
 The president is the highest elected office and functions as the head
of government
 The president is elected every four years by Iranian citizens
 The president is limited to two consecutive terms in office
 The president of Iran is still required to be a pious Shiite who
upholds Islamic principles
 Presidential powers include:
The Executive
Devising the budget
Supervising economic matters
Proposing legislation to the Majles
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
 The cabinet conducts the real work governing the people
 Almost all new laws and budget are put together by the cabinet
The Executive
 Ahmadinejad and Khameni generally supported each other but at
the end of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the to had started to
compete with each other
 They rarely disagreed on policy, but they struggled to distinguish
who has the most authority to run the government
 The bureaucracy has doubled since 1979 and is dominated by
religious interests
 The ministries of Intelligence, Interior, Justice, and Cultural and
Islamic Guidance are run by clerics and other posts are dominated by
their relatives
 Semipublic Institutions are theoretically autonomous but they are
directed and appoints personally picked by the Supreme Leader
 They are tax exempt and generate a large portion of income for the
 Because the companies are run by those with such strong ties to
the government, they are often referred to as para-statals, or
 These organizations are plagued by inefficiency and corruption and
are widely criticized for unfairly competing with private companies
 The Majles is a unicameral legislature
 The Majles has significant powers that allow them to:
(The Majles)
 Enact or change laws (with the approval of the Guardian Council)
 Interpreting legislation, as long as they do not contradict judicial
 Appointing six of the twelve members of the Guardian Council,
chosen from a list presented by the chief judge
 Investigating the cabinet ministers and public complaints against
the executive and judiciary
 Removing cabinet members, but not the president
 Approving the budget, cabinet appointments, treaties, and loans
 The Majles has 290 seats and all are directly elected through single
members districts
 The judiciary is headed by a chief justice with an understanding of
sharia (which means he is a cleric)
The Judiciary
 The chief justice is appointed by the supreme leader for a five year
 He is also responsible for managing the judiciary and overseeing the
appointment and removal of judges
 The Supreme Court is beneath the chief justice but is the highest
court of appeals
 All justices are high-ranking clerics who are familiar with sharia
 There are two types of law in Iran sharia and qanun
 In all cases the Guardian Council has the final say in the
interpretation of law
 Sharia law (Islamic law)
The Judiciary
 This is the foundation for all Islamic civilization and its authority is
supposed to go beyond Iran’s borders
 These rules are supposed to be the essence of Muhammad himself
 Sharia is meant to embody a vision of a community in which all
Muslims are brothers and sisters and subscribe to the same moral
 In Iran the idea of sharia is supposed to supersede all other law and it
is the job of all politicians to support sharia
 Qanun
 There is no sacred basis with Qanun
 Qanun are laws passed by the Majles and can not contradict sharia
 While judicial review does exist in Iran, it is to uphold sharia not
the constitution
 The Sharia is interpreted very strictly
The Judiciary
 Demanding blood money is legal and the death penalty is used to
punish offenses like adultery, homosexuality, drug dealing, and
 It also sets up unequal treatment between men and women, and
Muslims and non-Muslims
 The Revolutionary Guards were established after the 1979
The Military
 The Revolutionary Guards were designed to stop the military from
trying to take over the government and are commanded by the
supreme leader
 The regular army is supposed to defend the borders while the
Revolutionary Guards protect the republic
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