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Iran: democratic turning point? « Previous | |Next »
January 14, 2004

The media are carrying stories that the powerful conservatives in the Guardians Council in Iran are trying to bar reforming MP's from standing in next month's elections.

A standoff is forming as the barred MPs stage a sit-in, provincial governors are threatening to resign and Government ministers are writing their letters of resignation.

The Council of Guardians sounds something straight out of Plato's Republic does it not?

The Council 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. It is a powerful unelected political body.

Abu Aardvark says that this conflict has:

"...all the earmarks of a direct, frontal challenge to the reformists, aimed at forcing them to admit their defeat and to capitulate. But it also shows the weakness of the conservatives, and their fear of free elections. Having to resort openly to such manipulations demonstrates clearly their recognition that they could not win a fair democratic competition. They can control the existing institutions, but only by stripping those institutions of their legitimacy."

The situation is still very fluid. The question is: will Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, back the Council of Guardians bans? At the moment it appears the conflict appears to be a high-stakes game of chicken.

At this stage the effect of the conflict within Iran's political institutions will have on its nascent civil society is unclear. Will it facilitate the development of civil society? Will it hinder it?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:18 AM | | Comments (2)


Those damn neocons are everywhere!

Their strategic policies have been widely accepted.

Their policies are those of an hegemonic power.