The Seven Presidents
- Iran’s constitution vests ultimate authority in the supreme leader, but the presidency has developed into a powerful office.
- The last four presidents have each stamped his own personality and politics on social and economic life, domestic politics and foreign policy.
- Powerful presidents have also aroused powerful opposition. Presidential administrations have been characterized by factionalism between the president’s party and his opponents. They have also been driven by tension over authority between the president and the supreme leader. So far, the leader has emerged the dominant authority in these confrontations.
- The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad initially seemed a departure from the past, as he sought to build up a power base among the same constituencies in the military, judiciary and security agencies that are the supreme leader’s base of support. However, he did not succeed. Ahmadinejad’s clash with Khamenei over a matter of appointments made clear the ultimate loyalty of these agencies was to the leader, not the president.
- Hassan Rouhani’s election in 2013 underlined again the preference of a majority of Iranians for moderation at home and reduction of friction with the West abroad. The signal achievement of his first two years in office was the agreement with the major powers over Iran’s nuclear program. However, tensions with the West over other aspects of Iran’s foreign policy continued; and at home Rouhani secured some easing of social and political restrictions but proved unable to break the repressive hold on political life of the judiciary and the security agencies.
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"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
The world’s most comprehensive website on Iran, “The Primer” brings together 50 experts—Western and Iranian—in concise chapters on politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and the nuclear program. It chronicles events under six U.S. presidents. It also has leader bios, timelines, data on nuclear sites—and context for what lies ahead. Click here for a hardcopy. New articles are added at the top.