World Citizen: Inside Iran’s Peculiar Democracy

World Citizen: Inside Iran’s Peculiar Democracy

News that former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, hailed as a reformer, would challenge sitting hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in upcoming elections proved oddly short-lived. Just five weeks after sparking jubilation among his supporters by proclaiming his candidacy, the 65-year-old cleric poured cold water on the celebrations with the announcement that he had decided to withdraw, opening a minuscule new window into the mysterious machinations of Iran's unique brand of theocratic democracy.

Iranians, and the rest of the world, are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the June voting to see if Ahmadinejad will manage to stay in power. The electoral process in Iran, however, is unlike any in the world. For starters, candidates must receive approval to stand for election from the conservative Council of Guardians.

That's no mere formality. The unelected Council is charged with ensuring that all candidates meet conditions that include having the right values and supporting the country's Islamic system of government. Hundreds of candidates are routinely barred from running. In 2005, the council disqualified almost all the liberal candidates. Candidates also contend with a system that provides strong media support to the choice of the religious establishment. Other advantages accrue to those particularly favored by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the most powerful man in Iran.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.