The Six Presidents
- Iran’s constitution vests ultimate authority in the supreme leader, but the presidency has developed into a powerful office.
- The last three 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.
- The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems a departure from the past. He is building up a power base among the same constituencies in the military, judiciary and security agencies that are the supreme leader’s base of support. This trend, if sustained, has important future implications.
- Khamenei outmaneuvered and neutralized both Rafsanjani and Khatami, whose basic policies he did not always embrace. Khamenei initially supported Ahmadinejad, but the distance between the two men has been growing.
- Ahmadinejad has been able to build a base of support among the very constituencies on which Khamenei depends: The Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary forces, the security agencies and the judiciary.
- The Revolutionary Guards, the security agencies and their branches crushed the Green Movement that emerged to protest the contested 2009 election. They are claiming an increasingly larger role in political affairs.
- Allegations of vote tampering in the 2009 election could impact what happens in the next elections for parliament in 2012 and president in 2013. The key issues are: First, whether those in power—fearing re-emergence of the Green Movement and determined to hold onto power—will try to influence the outcome. Second, whether the Green Movement will put up—or be allowed to—run candidates. Third, how much of the electorate will turn out to vote.
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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.