Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Learning details from current events

The Economist has a good review of presidential politics in Iran. Along the way, the reporters offer some clues about the regime and the political system.

Iran's presidential choice: It could make a big difference

"[T]he democratic elements of Iran’s peculiar system, which seeks to represent both God and man, are tightly constrained. Candidates must be vetted by a Council of Guardians, made up of senior clerics, which is empowered to reject anyone who doubts the revolution’s Islamic tenets. One of these is velayet el-faqih, a controversial doctrine, unique to Iran, that exalts the power of the supreme leader, or rahbar, an anointed cleric, over the people’s elected representatives. This makes Iran’s presidents in effect subservient, particularly in foreign policy and specifically on the nuclear issue, to the will of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has held the rahbar’s office since the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989.

"Such restraints are not the only ones that will curb the powers of Iran’s next president. A potentially severe economic crisis also looms. This comes as a direct result of the collapse in prices for Iran’s main export, crude oil, but has been worsened both by four years of Mr Ahmadinejad’s recklessly spendthrift policies and by UN and other sanctions, intended to punish Iran for seeking a potentially offensive nuclear capability, which have throttled trade and stunted foreign investment...

"Wary of the ever-vigilant supreme leader and chastened by past failures to overcome conservatives, who now control the elected legislature as well as such pillars of Iran’s “deep state” as the security services, courts and state broadcasting monopoly, a reformist president would probably shy away from any bold departures in foreign policy. Yet even changes in tone could have a dramatic effect..."


What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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