The International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) has published a book entitled ‘Structures of Governance in Iran’ written by Mohammad Abdullah Bani Hamim and Dr. Mona Abdulfattah Abbas. The 181-page book includes an explanation of the integrated nature of the Iranian political system through addressing the executive, legislative and judicial branches. In addition, the book provides detailed information on the supreme leader’s institution, which is considered as the fourth authority within this complex system. Moreover, the book provides analysis on the system’s performance and interactions, the extent of its correlation with the Iranian public and the extent of its legitimacy.
The first chapter entitled ‘The Iranian Political System: A Constitutional Perspective’ is devoted to the supreme leader and his absolute powers. In particular, this chapter explains the nature of his legitimate and legally authorized influence as well as his interference in all state institutions and those affiliated to him, most importantly the Office of the Supreme Leader and the Council of Experts.
This chapter also deals with the executive authority represented by the presidency of the republic, vice presidents and the cabinet, their responsibilities, legislative tasks, the administration of foreign affairs, and the administration of military affairs. It also addresses the legislative authority and its role in legislation, representation, deliberation, monitoring and investigation through the elected institutions (the Islamic Consultative Assembly) and the unelected institutions which are the Guardian Council and the Expediency Council. The chapter also reviews the judiciary, its functions and affiliated institutions such as the general courts, the military courts, the revolutionary courts, the clerical courts, the Supreme Court, and the administrative justice court.
The second chapter entitled ‘Interactions and Practices Under the Iranian Political System’ discusses the hegemony of the leader over the Iranian political system. It explains the institution of the presidency and its limited role under Velayat-e Faqih [supreme leadership]. It also deals with the legislative authority as a determinative instrument, where the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) represents the official legislative authority in the country next to the Guardian Council and the Expediency Council, which is directly linked to the supreme leader. The chapter turns to the judiciary and the problem of independence under the authority of the supreme leader. It also discusses the political currents within the Iranian political system, namely the fundamentalists, the reformists, and the centrists.
The final chapter entitled ‘Legitimacy of the Political System in Iran: Between Theory and Reality’ analyzes the elements of the legitimacy of the Iranian political system in terms of the level of public satisfaction with the supreme leader, the political system, policies and practices, adherence to the intellectual, constitutional and doctrinal framework, and the Iranian political system’s international crisis. The chapter also highlights the implications of this crisis of legitimacy within the Iranian political system, represented by the growing public discontent, the increasing interference of the state, the weak performance of the system, and the lack of international confidence in the system. The chapter focuses on how the Iranian political system confronts the crisis of legitimacy through neglect, indifference to public demands, extreme repression, and reflects a faded picture of democracy. Furthermore, the government fabricates external and internal crises to justify regional interventions.
The book concludes with setting out three scenarios in the formative phase that the Iranian political system may devolve to, starting from reforming and changing the Iranian political system, the collapse or fall of the system, or the government’s survival as it is. In any case, rapid and successive developments that may take place are not excluded. Therefore, the political system would lose the current state of cohesion, which would lead to its downfall in an unexpected manner both at the internal and external levels.