Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to the undemocratic future?

Sue Witmer, who teaches at Northeastern High School in Pennsylvania, sent a link to an article from the Christian Science Monitor that speculates about the anti-democratic intentions of Iran's Supreme Leader.

On the road, Iran's Khamenei sets stage for a less democratic future
It looked like business as usual when Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei began a nine-day tour of the western province of Kermanshah last week. But Ayatollah Khamenei appears to be setting the stage for political changes that will further shrivel the democratic aspect of the Islamic Republic…

Khamenei – whose title is meant to confer the authority of God's interim representative on earth – suggested that the post of Iran's directly elected president might be abolished, to be replaced by a premier chosen by parliament…

"The current political system of the country is presidential, and the president is elected directly by the people. This is a good and effective system," Khamenei reassured another large crowd on Sunday. "But if one day, possibly in the distant future, it is felt that a parliamentary system is more suited for electing those responsible for the executive branch, then there would be no problems in making changes in the system."…

[R]esurrection of the post of prime minister – which existed for the first decade of the revolution, until 1989 – would mark a further decline of democracy.

Such a decision would come in the context of the divisive six-year presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…

It would also come as Mr. Ahmadinejad has mounted several challenges to Khamenei, and proven himself to be a gutsy street-fighter willing to damage the regime's reputation to preserve his own. His closest aides have been accused of sorcery and leading a "deviant current."

Khamenei's comments "reflect ... a nearly decade-long conservative, undemocratic trend in Iranian politics where political change has been engineered and managed," writes Reza Marashi, research director at the National Iranian American Council in Washington…

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