Libmonster ID: U.S.-1235
Author(s) of the publication: N. FILIN

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a referendum was held in Iran on the future state structure. In accordance with its results, the country was proclaimed an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979. Iran has become a theocratic state with fundamental elements of a republican form of government.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is certainly a peculiar republic. It is based on the principle of "velayat-e faqih"1, which established the supremacy of the Islamic clergy in power structures. The functioning of the main government bodies is subject to Islamic principles.

One of the most important institutions of the Iranian political system is the Council of Experts (CE) - a state body that includes the most authoritative representatives of the Shiite clergy (currently consists of 86 members). The Council acts independently of other government bodies and performs primarily advisory functions. The main task of the Council of Experts is to elect a new spiritual leader of the country (rahbar 2) if the incumbent passes away or is unable to perform his duties. The first Rakhbar of Iran was Imam Khomeini, who was elected for life.

According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Rahbar is not only the head of the Iranian state, but also the leader of the entire Shiite community, and he formally has full power-political, spiritual and military (Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Article 110).

Once a Rakhbar is elected, the SE then does not restrict his power in any way, and the Rakhbar has the right to accept or not take into account the opinions of the Council members. The country's current spiritual leader is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was elected Rahbar in 1989 after the death of Imam Khomeini.

The Council of Experts is often consulted by members of the Cabinet of Ministers. Some draft laws are also considered in the Mejlis only after the Council of Ministers gives an opinion on them, and experts often recommend that deputies finalize the document.

The Council of Experts was originally established in August 1979 to draft a new constitution for Iran. Then it was decided to keep it for the election of a new rahbar. Since December 1982, elections to the Council of Europe have been held by popular vote, and the term of office of its members is set at 8 years.

In accordance with the electoral law, a candidate for the SE must meet the following qualifications::

- to be a well-known guardian of religious laws, to be distinguished by moral fortitude and moral purity;

- differ in their knowledge of ijti-hada 3 to the extent that they can accurately identify worthy people for spiritual guidance and government of the country;

- possess political and social knowledge, the ability to solve pressing issues;

- Do not doubt the inviolability of the political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran and do not have a compromising past in political and social activities.

A candidate for Council of Europe membership must present a written certificate from three well-known religious mentors that they meet all the necessary requirements for election to the Council. But if his knowledge is directly confirmed by Rahbar, or he is already known in the scientific and theological community as an expert in ijtihad, then he does not need to receive the above-mentioned written evidence.4

In 1998, the Supervisory Board (NA)5 approved a regulation stating that any Iranian citizen who has reached a certain age can become a candidate for membership in the Council of Experts if they pass a written exam for knowledge of Sharia law. Interestingly, many religious leaders could not pass it.

The 86 seats on the Council of Experts are distributed in proportion to the population of the provinces. The provinces of Tehran (16), Razavi Khorasan (6), Khuzestan (6), East Azerbaijan (5) and Isfahan (5) have the highest number. From the rest of the provinces, 1 to 4 people are elected as members of the Council.6

Before voting, candidates to the SE are approved by the Supervisory Board. According to the election law, the National Assembly can remove from the election any candidate whose position it considers to be contrary to the norms of Islam7. Thus, the NA has to some extent more rights than the Council of Experts.

The specifics of Islamic theocratic power have a huge impact on the nature of political activity in Iran. So, in Iran, only parties with Islamic ideology and groups of Shiite clergy that share the principles laid down in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran operate legally today. Political groups or parties that reject Islam and the principle of "velayat-e faqih" are persecuted by the authorities.8 However, some grassroots government bodies have electoral quotas for religious minorities, but they are insignificant.

Nor is there any party activity in Iran that is familiar to Western countries. The inter-party struggle becomes noticeable only during election campaigns, since many parties and movements are created temporarily, for specific elections, and at their own discretion.

page 60

they cease to play any role in political life. At the same time, there are a number of coalitions that have a real impact on the domestic political situation in the country. In many ways, they exist because of the authority of their leaders.

Currently, the members of the Council of Experts can be divided into four groups: these are "reformers" who advocate gradual reform of the Iranian political system; "pragmatists "or" centrists", for whom the pragmatic component in many cases prevails over the religious one;" moderate conservatives", who aim to preserve the Islamic regime in Iran as it exists now; and" radical conservatives", who advocate even greater Islamization of all aspects of Iranian society.

In the last elections to the Council of Europe, which took place in December 2006, it was among the representatives of these trends that the main political struggle unfolded. The leader of the" reformers "was the former chairman of the Mejlis Mehdi Karroubi, the" pragmatists "were the former president of Iran Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the" moderate conservatives "were formally supported by the country's leader Ali Khamenei, and the" radical conservatives " were led by Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who is close to the current president of Iran M. Ahmadinejad.

However, the names of a number of leaders were presented in several lists of opposing trends at once. For example, Hashemi-Rafsanjani was listed in all major coalitions except Mesbah Yazdi's movement. It is also very difficult to determine which of the current top leadership of the country provides the most patronage to which coalition. For example, the country's leader, Rahbar Ali Khamenei, formally being in the camp of "moderate conservatives", provided some support to the radicals. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, as the leader of the" pragmatic coalition", also provided some support to the"reformers".

The Supervisory Board approved 162 candidates to participate in the elections. Approximately 60-80 more applicants were denied registration, 9 and many refused to participate themselves, realizing that the Supervisory Board would not approve their candidacies. For example, only 8 people from the "reformist" coalition participated in the elections.

According to the current electoral law in Iran, pre-election campaigning begins eight days before election day and must be stopped 24 hours before the start of voting.10 Thus, the official campaign began on December 7, 2006.

The walls of houses in Tehran were quickly covered with propaganda symbols. Moreover, the lifetime of one poster was at best one day. New posters were pasted directly on top of old ones, and competitors ' posters were often simply torn off the walls. All sorts of small propaganda leaflets were distributed in such numbers that on the day before the elections, one of the central squares of Tehran, "Revolution Square", was completely hidden under their layer.

Usually, polling stations are located in mosques in Iran, but there are also mobile voting points in the form of buses that run around the city and stop for several hours at a certain place.

The voting procedure, according to the author's personal observation, is as follows. A citizen who has the right to vote, when arriving at a polling station, approaches the representative of the election commission and first gives him his passport, which is stamped. This is done so that the individual cannot vote again at another polling station. A person's data is entered in the accounting sheet and their fingerprint is placed. Then the voter receives the ballot and goes with it to the lists of candidates, where the names, surnames, and sometimes even nicknames of the elected persons are indicated in alphabetical order. Since there were 16 seats in the SE in Tehran province, there were 16 blank lines in the ballots, where the voter entered the names of the candidates they liked by hand. After writing the names of all those who are worthy in his opinion, the voter goes to the ballot boxes. After that, the passport is returned to him.

The results of the SE elections were as follows:" moderate conservatives "won about half of the seats in the new Council of Experts," pragmatists " - 1/3," radical conservatives " - 1/6." Reformers " received only four seats 11.

These results indirectly indicate that the political situation in Iran has changed since 2005 and the population is no longer so actively supporting radical religious circles, whose ideas are expressed by the current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On the contrary, the position of the "centrist" coalition has strengthened, which is confirmed by the fact that its leader Hashemi-Rafsanjani was elected Chairman of the Council of Experts in the summer of 2007.


1 The principle of "velayat-e faqih" is the rule of the most respected and authoritative Islamic theologian in the Shiite community.

2 Unlike the country's president , the highest secular executive official. Rahbar - aka velayat-e faqih.

3 Ijtihad - the totality of religious knowledge, the achievement of higher knowledge in the theological sciences and the right to make their own decisions on important religious issues.

4 Ghanun-e entehabat va ayinnameh-ye daheli-ye majles-e habregan (1361/7/18) / Electoral Law and Internal Charter of the Council of Experts (adopted on October 10, 1982); Gavanin va mogarrarat-e entehabat-e jomhuri-ye eslami-ye Iran (ghanun) / Laws and Rules of Elections of Iran. Tehran, 1381 (2002/03), pp. 117 - 118.

5 The Supervisory Board is one of the most important institutions of the Iranian political system, combining the functions of monitoring the legislative activities of the Mejlis and the election Commission.

6 Etemad-e melli. 20.12.2006.

7 Эттэлаат. 13.10.1998.

8 Interview with Kiyan Davudi, PhD in International Relations 12.12.2006.

9 Interview with Syed Shariati, member of the political council of the Masharekyat party, 13.12.2006.

10 Ayinnameh-ye ejraiyeh entehabat-e shuraha-ye eslami-ye Shahr wa Shahrak (1377/9/29) / Executive Charter for Elections to Islamic Councils of Cities and Towns (Adopted on December 20, 1998) .2: 25 - 28 // Gavanin wa mogarrarat-e entehabat-e jomhuri-ye eslami-ye iran (shawraha) / Laws and rules of elections of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran, 1381 (2002/03). p. 106.

11 Interview with Syed Shariati...


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