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JURIST's Iran Correspondent is Mansour Jafarian, LL.M., Lecturer, Azad University; Attorney-at-Law, Tehran.
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Democracy and the Iranian Constitution

[Tehran; Special to JURIST] I have already set out in some detail the basics of the Iranian constitutional structure. We can say that in the Iranian Constitution the Sovereign Powers are independent of each other, but all of them are subject to the absolute authority and leadership of the Leader. Therefore, the principle of the Separation of Powers does not govern in the Constitution.

On the other hand, the election of President Khatami as President of Iran by an absolute majority of the people indicates the public's increasing demand for political freedom and an increased role of the people on the political scene. The President's power will increase and he will play a major role on the political scene.

As democracy increases in Iran, the Leader's authority must decrease. He will eventually be limited strictly to religious affairs. In addition, the REC's authority will weaken and the role of GC will be diminished as the Majlis' power intensifies.

The process of democratization in Iran can even implement new interpretations of the Constitution. However, amendments will not be considered because the amendment of some Articles is impossible. According to Article 177, any amendment to the Constitution depends on the leader's assent. It is foolish to expect the Leader to willingly amend the Constitution to decrease his authority. Furthermore, Article 177 requires that the substance and spirit of the Articles of the Constitution relate to the Islamic foundation of the system and to Islamic criteria for constituting the basis of all rules and regulations, and the Velayat-e- Amr va Imamat-e-Ommat (politico-religious leadership of the nation by the Leader) are immutable. Therefore, not even the absolute majority of the people holds enough power to alter the Leader's authority.

A dynamic system must cope with many new situations, otherwise it cannot survive. The Constitution should also have such flexibility. There are some Articles, such as Articles 4 and 177, which are immutable. These Articles prevent peaceful social reformation by suppressing public will, and force the people to resort to violence.

The contradiction between public opinion and the framework of the Constitution will lead to fierce movement to eliminate the restrictions imposed on the people. If the people cannot find any way to change the Articles of the Constitution, they will decide to abolish the Constitution in order to be able to live however they choose.

Mansour Jafarian, LL.M.
JURIST Iran Correspondent
Lecturer, Azad University
Attorney-at-Law, Tehran

October 10, 2000

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