The assigned country for this paper is Iran. The country’s political system is unitary. Iran’s regime type is nondemocratic, in particular authoritarian. The governing model of Iran is a combination of theocracy and “illegal democracy”. The electoral system is hybrid. The judicial review is concrete.
State Political System
The state political system of Iran is unitary. A unitary political system is a political system in which one central government has the supreme authority to govern the whole country and delegate some powers to local governments. Iran’s political system is unitary because the state has one legislative house. Iran has only one legislature that applies to all. Iran has a head of the state referred to as Rahbar. Rahbar, also called as the Supreme Leader has the highest power in the political system. The unitary political system has advanced political, economic, and social progress.
The regime of Iran is nondemocratic. In particular, the state’s regime is authoritarian. The state’s human rights record is poor. The government limits freedom of speech, including the media. The Constitution of Iran sets forth a complex political system. According to Alem, (2) the state’s regime in Iran is hybrid. Alem refers to the regime as sui generis, a combination of democracy with theocracy. However, on practice, the ultimate authority rests with the Supreme Leader who is not accountable to anyone. Thus, the theocratic part of sui generis vastly overwhelms the democratic part. The state’s regime has hindered the promotion of human rights for all people. It also may have contributed to world opposition against Iran.
Iran is not a democratic county. Even though it has the parliament and the president which are elected every 4 years, the government model is neither Parliamentary nor Presidential. The country is nondemocratic. However, it is not a single rule because the Constitution distinguishes between three branches of power: legislative, executive, and judiciary. Also, the Supreme Leader is de jure answerable to the Assembly of Leadership Experts (Fanack). The country cannot be considered a one-party system because since 1987, there have been different political parties in Iran (Fanack). However, it is fair to say that since the Revolution, the government has been harshly suppressing opposition. Iran’s governing model is not solely a theocracy because the political system combines the elements of Islamic theocracy with democracy. Therefore, the most viable classification of the Iranian governing model would be a mixture of theocracy with “illiberal democracy”. The Theocratic Republic of Iran has advanced the cause of Islam. The governing model has been responsible for furthering the country from the West.
Iran has a hybrid electoral system in which one part of the population chooses representatives using one electoral system, and the other part of the population chooses representatives using another system. Iran uses a single member district plurality. The majority of seats are determined in a two-round voting system using a modified block vote system where multi-member districts can cast as many votes as there are seats to fill. Districts where seats are left uncontested hold run-off elections. The factor causing the hybridization of the system is the desire of legislators to guarantee representation in the parliament of certain groups of citizens who are not localized geographically but have specific interests due to ethnic or religious factors. The Iranian electoral system is an example of such a hybrid electoral system. The system provides for a special representation of several religious minorities of the country. In particular, each of the following religious minorities has the right to have one representative in the parliament: the Zoroastrians, Jews, Armenian Christians from the South, Armenian Christians from the North of the country. Assyrians and Chaldean Christians jointly choose one member of the parliament (Alem 33). Thus, hybridization in the electoral system of Iran is used to guarantee the representation of religious minorities in the country’s parliament. The major problem of the electoral system is that all candidates are subject to the approval by the Council of Guardians, an institution appointed by the Supreme Leader and the Parliament. The mixed electoral system does not give fair representation for minority groups.
Iran has a Judicial Review, which is concrete. The judicial system is based on the belief in the exclusive sovereignty of God. The judicial system adheres to Islamic law, which is considered sacred. Islamic law is also referred to as sharia (Rahmani and Koohshahi 2224). The country has the Supreme Court. The head of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Supreme Leader. There are four types of courts: public courts for convention and criminal trials, revolutionary courts for national security cases, a special court for cases involving government officials, and a clerical court for ideological cases and members of the clergy. The Judiciary Review has resulted in a high level of corruption and no opposition to the government.
The principal contemporary challenges are home-based terrorist groups such as Jaysh al Adl and foreign-based terrorist groups such as al-Qa’ida and Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Also, Iran is engaged in human trafficking as children, men, and women are subject to sex trafficking and forced labor. Organized groups transport Iranian girls for sexual exploitation and forced marriages. The promotion of human rights is very weak. According to the CIA, the country is a transhipment route for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe, has a very high opiate addiction rate in the world, increasing struggles with synthetic drugs, applies the death penalty to drug offences. Moreover, Iran does not have rigid anti-money laundering laws.
- Alem, Yasmin. Duality by design: the Iranian electoral system. IFES, 2011.
- Rahmani, Tahminch, and Nader Mirzadeh Koohshahi. “Introduction to Iran’s Judical System.” Journal of Law, Policy, and Globalization, vol. 45, 2016, pp. 2224-3240.
- The CIA. “Iran.” The World Factbook, 2019.
- Fanack. Iran. Governance & Politics, 2019, https://fanack.com/iran/governance-and-politics-of-iran/