June 12, 2013 Leave a comment
Background: Iran, recently in the news for its nuclear ambitions and involvement in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, will have presidential elections on June 14. Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, the Supreme Leader (the highest religious and political figure in Iran) has shared power with the Republic’s President. Around the world, people are curious to know how much these elections really matter–that is, how much power the Iranian President really wields and how much is controlled by the Supreme Leader. Papers within Iran imply power is in the hands of the Guardian Council (headed by the Supreme Leader), especially in foreign policy decisions (LEFT). Other outlets admit the President has very limited power, but can still change the direction of the country economically, diplomatically, and in filling appointments (RIGHT).
Election fervor approaches climax
June 12 Tehran Times
“…Iran’s top electoral supervisory body, the Guardian Council, approved the qualifications of eight candidates… The candidates elaborated on their policies on economic and cultural issues and introduced their foreign and national policies during three rounds of live televised group debates, which some believe were not as lively and heated as the one-on-one televised presidential debates of 2009, which were introduced for the first time that year. During the debates, almost all the candidates acknowledged that the country’s economy is in a grim state and quick fixes must be found to boost the sanction-hit economy, and also vowed to improve Iran’s relations with the outside world. They all defended Iran’s right to have a peaceful nuclear program, but their views differed on how to negotiate with the West to resolve the decade-old nuclear dispute, which, in the White House’s words, has drawn “the most stringent and broad sanctions regime in the history of the world.” However, making decisions on nuclear policies and major foreign policy issues falls within the ambit of the Supreme Leader…”
Iran elections 2013: Does the president even matter?
June 11 Al Arabiya
“…In Iran, however, the president is not the final decision-maker, and it is the only state in which the president does not have control over the armed forces… (However,) the president can significantly change the direction of the country… Perhaps the most important aspect of the president’s powers, at least to to voters in the country, is their ability to shift Iran’s economic course… Iran’s relations with the West have been strained, showing that the country can be poles apart under different presidents, despite having the same supreme leader… The president’s key role in brokering diplomacy with the outside world is just one reason why the position matters… The president also has the constitutional right to fill key positions of authority… (But even their chosen picks’ decisions are only effective after confirmation by the supreme leader. “That’s why [Ahmadinejad and Khatami], in the last days of their presidency, said this position has no real authority. In other words, it’s all about being a handyman to the supreme leader”… In terms of economic policy, the president has leeway to formulate decisions… Despite this, the presidential position seems to be overpowered regarding the formulation of foreign policy…”