Although Iran political structure is a republic system, it may seem different from other similar political systems. Iran political system’s origin and roots are the reason beyond such uniqueness. The political system of Islamic Republic of Iran is the result of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the first of its type in the world. Therefore, Iran political system established afterward should have been defined according to the ideals of such a revolution.
Iran political structure can be realized if you look at it as two sections: Iran government, which works according to Iranian Constitution and Islamic laws, and other political entities, which help the formation of a complete political structure. More importantly, the supreme leader who is the highest authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran supervises the above two categories.
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
On 2- 3 December 1979, the constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran was ratified by referendum. In this referendum 99.5% of Iranian voters approved the constitution. 10 years later, in the summer of 1989, Iranian voters approved the amendments to the constitution of 1979 in a referendum. The constitution has been called a “hybrid” of “theocratic and democratic elements”. While articles one and two vest sovereignty in God and article six “mandates popular elections for the presidency and the Majlis, or parliament.”
Islamic Revolution gained victory as a result of the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. After the demise of the founder of Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei was given the control of leadership of Islamic Revolution. Iran’s leadership is the backbone of Iran political system. According to Iran’s Constitution, the Supreme Leader is responsible for the delineation and supervision of “the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which means that he sets the tone and direction of Iran’s domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Leader also is commander- in- chief of the armed forces. He has the power to appoint and dismiss the leaders of the judiciary, the state radio, and television networks. He also appoints six of the 12 members of the Council of Guardians, the powerful
Executive power (Iran Government, president)
According to the Constitution of Iran, the President is the Head of the Government who hold the powers of the Executive after the Supreme Leader. The President is elected for a term of 4 years by universal suffrage. The responsibilities of the President include:
- Implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except matter relating to Supreme Leader.
- The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers
- Coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature The executive branch also includes a cabinet comprising of a council of ministers selected by the President with the approval of the Legislature.
Iran government cabinet is consisting of 18 Ministries as follow:
- Agriculture Jihad
- Communications and Information Technology
- Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare
- Culture and Islamic Guidance
- Defense and Armed Forces Logistics
- Economic Affairs and Finance
- Foreign Affairs
- Health and Medical Education
- Industry, Mine and Trade
- Intelligence and National Security
- Roads and Urban Development
- Science, Research and Technology
- Youth Affairs and Sports
The present legislative branch of Iran comprises of the unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly. Prior to the Islamic Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, but the new constitution removed the upper house. The Iranian unicameral legislative body whose 290 members are publicly elected every four years, drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the country’s budget. Parliamentary sessions are open to the public; its deliberations are broadcast and its minutes are published.
The head of the Judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader and in turn the judicial head appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. The Supreme Court and the High Council of the Judiciary comprises of a single head with overlapping responsibilities. Jointly both supervise the enforcement of all laws and are responsible for establishing judicial and legal policies. The other types of courts include a special clerical court, a revolutionary court, and a special administrative court. Another function of the judiciary includes nominating the six members of the Council of Guardians.
Public courts deal with civil and criminal cases. There are also “revolutionary” courts that try certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security, narcotics smuggling, and acts that undermine the Islamic Republic.
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts (Majlis- e Khobregan) is part of Iran political structure formed after the demise of Ayatollah Khomeini to elect a leader. The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week every year, consists of 86 “virtuous and learned” clerics elected by the public to eight- year terms. Like presidential and parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians determines who can run for a seat in the assembly. Members of the Assembly of Experts in turn elect the Supreme Leader from within their own ranks and periodically reconfirm him.
Iran Guardian Council
It is the council of sages known as the Council of Guardians of the Constitution. They check the compatibility and conformity of the bills and motions passed by Majlis with the Islamic canon and the Constitution. 12 jurists comprise the Council of Guardians, 6 of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The head of the judiciary recommends the remaining 6, which are officially appointed by Parliament. The Council of Guardians is vested with the authority to interpret the constitution and determines if the laws passed by Parliament are in line with sharia (Islamic law).
This means that the council has effective veto power over Parliament. If it deems that a law passed by Parliament is incompatible with the constitution or sharia, it is referred back to Parliament for revision.The council also examines presidential and parliamentary candidates to determine their fitness.
Expediency Discernment Council of the System
This council has been established to overcome the differences of standpoints between the Majlis (Parliament) and the Guardian Council. This council plays a major role in Iran political system. According to the constitution, the Expediency Council serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country.
City and Village Councils
They form the decision- making and administrating organs of the state together with the parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Majlis. This is a vital ingredient of Iran political system.
Foreign Policy & Diplomacy
Iran has an active Foreign Ministry and maintains embassies or representation in all countries with which it has diplomatic relations. Iran actively participates in or seeks to join many different international organizations, including those that are dominated by members critical of Iran’s policies. Iran has sought to join World Trade Organization (WTO) since the mid- 1990s. Its prospects for being admitted have increased now that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is being implemented, but the process of accession is complicated and might yet take several years.
Iran also seeks full membership regional organizations including the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Officials from SCO countries have said that the JCPOA likely removes obstacles to Iran’s obtaining full membership. From August 2012 until August 2015, Iran held the presidency of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), which has about 120 member states and 17 observer countries and generally shares Iran’s criticisms of big power influence over global affairs. In August 2012, Iran hosted the NAM annual summit.
Iran is a party to all major nonproliferation conventions, including the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Iran insists that it has adhered to all its commitments under these conventions, but the international community asserted that it did not meet all its NPT obligations and that Iran needed to prove that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. Negotiations between Iran and international powers on this issue began in 2003 and culminated with the July 2015 JCPOA.
Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA)
The Iran nuclear deal framework was a preliminary framework, which reached to the final agreement in 2015 between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of world powers: The P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany) and the European Union.
Negotiations for a framework deal over the nuclear program of Iran took place between the foreign ministers of the countries at a series of meetings held from March 26 to April 2, 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland. On April2, the talks came to a conclusion and a press conference to announce that the 8 parties had reached an agreement on a framework deal. On July14, 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was announced between Iran and the P5+1 and EU (a comprehensive agreement based on the April 2015 framework), just before the final deadline on late april 18.