Political Structure

Monday, October 15, 2007

Active ImageThe political system of Iran is Islamic Republic. Absolute majority, 98.2 percent, of the Iranians voted positively for the Islamic Republic in a referendum held on April 1, 1979 after their victorious revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini. According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Leader, or Vali-e Faqih, is in the head of state.

On the basis of the constitution, president is the head of government who is accountable to the Parliament. However with the amendment of the constitution in 1989, the political structure of Iran changed whereby the position of premiership was eliminated, and his power was delegated to the president.

According to Article Six of the Constitution approved in 1979 and amended in 1989, in Islamic Republic of Iran, the country's affairs are managed by relying on the public participation. All the positions, from the leader to the members of parliament and councils, are elected by people's direct and indirect votes.

Guardianship of Jurisprudent (Leadership)

In his speeches in 1969, Imam Khomeini delineated the theory of Guardianship of Jurisprudent. It was adopted in the constitution after the victory of Islamic Revolution and was confirmed in a referendum in 1979. According to Articles 5 and 7 of the constitution in Islamic Republic of Iran, a just, pious, aware and brave jurisprudent is in charge of the leadership who is chosen by the Leadership Experts assembly. According to Article 110 of the constitution, the leader's responsibilities are as follows:
Determining the general policies of Islamic Republic of Iran, after consulting with Expediency Council.
Supervising the implementation of system's general policies
Ordering re-in-Chief of the armed forces
Proclaiming war, peace and mobilization of the forces
Appointing, dismissing and accepting the resignation of:
Jurisprudents of Guardians Council
Members of Expediency Council
The Judiciary Chief
Chief of Joint Staff of the Armed Forces
Commander-in-Chief of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps
Commander of military and security forces
Arbitrating between the three branches of government
Settling the problems of the system which cannot be solved by common methods, through the Expediency Council
Acknowledging the mandate of president after national election
Dismissing the president in case of his inefficiency, after the verdict of Supreme Court, or if no-confidence vote is passed against him by the Parliament according to the Article 89.
Pardoning or commuting the sentences within the framework of Islamic rules. After the suggestion of Judiciary chief
The leader can delegate some of his powers to another person. The present Leader of Iran is Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.7


The Executive is headed by the President who is directly elected by the people for a period of four years. He can be elected for two consecutive terms. He is the most high-ranking official after the leader and is in charge of executing the constitution and directing the Executive except in affairs which are directly related to the leader. The president is accountable to the nation, the leader and the Islamic parliament. Some of his duties are as follows: signing treaties, protocols, agreements and contracts between Iran and other states; signing contrasts of international unions after the approval of the Islamic parliament, he is in charge of country's projects, budget, administration and employment affairs, he appoints the ambassadors, appoints and dismisses the ministers, and awards governmental badges. At the moment, Mr. Mahmood Ahmadinejad is Iran's president elected In July 2005.

The structure of the Executive is as follows:

  • President
  • Vice Presidents
  • First Vice President
  • Vice President for legal and parliamentary affairs
  • Vice President and head of Martyrs Foundation
  • Vice President and head of tourism and cultural heritage organization
  • Vice President and head of management and planning organization
  • Vice President and head of physical education organization
  • Vice President and head of environment protection organization
  • Ministers and other members of cabinet


Iran's legislative power consists of Islamic Parliament, Guardians Council of the Constitution, and State Expediency Council. The Islamic Parliament consists of 290 MPs who are directly elected by the people for four years. Of course the number of deputies increase by the growth of the population. Zoroastrians and Jews each have one representative in the Parliament while the Assyrians and Caledonians have one representative. The Armenian Christians of the north and south each elect one representative to the Parliament. The quorum of the parliament is presence of two-third of the total number of deputies. The drafts and bills are approved on the basis of majority votes except in cases which requires the vote of two-third of the total number of deputies. The main rights and duties of parliament are as follows:

  • Enacting laws in all cases within the framework of the constitution
  • Right to do investigate all state affairs
  • Supervising the cabinet and government's performance
  • International treaties, protocols, contracts and agreements must be ratified by parliament
  • Reviewing and approving the budget bill submitted by cabinet
  • All cases of borrowing or lending or domestic and foreign assistance grants by government must be ratified by Islamic Parliament.
  • Approving mutual and multilateral protocols and agreements with other countries
  • Impeaching the ministers and cabinet members when it deem it necessary.

Guardians Council

According to Article 91 of the Constitution, to make sure that the bills approved by the parliament comply with Islamic rules and regulation, the Guardians Council was established with the following structure:

Six jurisprudents who are just and aware of requirements of the time. They are appointed by the Leader.

Six Muslim jurists, experts in different legal fields, who are introduced by the Judiciary Chief and approved by parliament. Members of Guardians Council are appointed for a period of six years.

According to the article 94 of the constitution, the parliament's approvals should be sent to the Guardians Council that is responsible to make sure those approvals are in agreement with Islamic rules and do not violate the letter and spirit of the constitution. They return to the Parliament to be reviewed and amended in case there are incompatibilities otherwise they are  approved.

In addition the Guardians Council is in charge of supervising the elections of Leadership Experts Assembly, president, Islamic parliament and holding referendum.

Expediency Council

According to Article 112 of the constitution, the Expediency Council has been established to determine system's interest in cases where Guardian Council recognizes the Parliament's approvals are in contrast with Islamic rules or constitution and considering the system's interest, parliament doesn't satisfy the viewpoint of Guardian Council. Consulting in affairs assigned by leadership and other duties mentioned in law are among their responsibilities. The leader determines fitted and changeable members of the assembly. The rules related to assembly are provided by members and after being approved are confirmed by leadership.


The article 156 of the constitution vividly underlines the independence of judiciary and courts. According to this article the judiciary is an independent branch of government that guarantees the social and individual rights to realize justice.
Some of the duties of this branch are as follows:

  1. Looking into and issuing verdict on complaints and inequities, considering the litigations; reconciling the parties to a dispute; etc.
  2. Restoring public rights and realizing justice and expanding legitimate freedoms.
  3. Supervising appropriate implementation of laws.
  4. Detecting crimes; chasing, and punishing the criminals and executing penal laws of Islam.
  5. Appropriate action to prevent crimes and to rehabilitating the offenders.

The Judiciary Chief is appointed by the Leader for five years. The Supreme Court  supervises the proper implementation of the  law in courtrooms. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and prosecutor general should be just clerics and aware of judicial affairs. They are appointed for five years by the Judiciary Chief after consulting the judges of Supreme Court. In order to look into people's complaints against government, an Administrative Tribunal has been established which functions under the supervision of Judiciary Chief.

Supreme Council of National Security

In order to preserve national interests and safeguard the Islamic Revolution, territorial integrity and national sovereignty, the Supreme Council of National Security has been established chaired by the president. The functions of the council are:

  1. Setting the defense-security policies within the framework of general policies set by the leader
  2. Coordinating the political, information, social, cultural and economic activities in relation to general defense-security policies.
  3. Utilizing the material and spiritual potentials of the country to confront the domestic and foreign threats.

Council members

  1. Heads of the three branches of government
  2. Chief of the Staff of armed forces
  3. Head of Management and Planning Organization
  4. Two representatives of the leader
  5. Ministers of Intelligence and Foreign Affairs
  6. The concerned minister and the top official of army related to the case under study

The Supreme Council of National Security proportionate to its duties establishes subsidiary councils such as defense council and council of national security. Each subsidiary council is headed by the President or a member of the supreme council who is appointed by the president. The functions and jurisdictions of each subsidiary council are set by the law. After the leader's approval, the enactments of the Supreme Council of National Security are implemented.

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