Political System of Iran

The political system of Iran is quite a complex one and combines elements of a modern Islamic ideology with democracy. The entire system functions under a Supreme Leader who is appointed by the Assembly of Experts and is the chief of state while the President is Head of Government. Here is an overview of the structure of the political system of Iran.

Supreme Leader
The Supreme Leader holds the highest position in the political power structure of Iran who is in charge of defining and supervising the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Presently the Supreme Leader is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei whose major responsibilities include-

  • Appointment of the head of the judiciary
  • Appointment of the clergy members on the Council of Guardians
  • Appointment of the commanders of all the armed forces
  • Appointment of the Friday prayer leaders and the head of radio and TV
The Supreme Leader is also responsible for confirming the President's election.

The Executive
According to the Constitution of Iran, the President is the Head of the Government who hold the powers of the Executive after the Supreme Leader. The President is elected for a term of 4 years by universal suffrage. The responsibilities of the President includes-

  • Implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except matter relating to Supreme Leader.
  • The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers
  • Coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature
The executive branch also includes a cabinet comprising of a council of ministers selected by the President with the approval of the Legislature.

The Executive branch of the Government of Iran also comprises of three oversight bodies namely -

  • Assembly of Experts
  • Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency
  • Council of Guardians

The Legislature
The present legislative branch of Iran comprises of the unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly. Prior to the Islamic Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, but the new constitution removed the upper house. Members of the legislative branch are elected for a 4 year term by popular vote.

The head of the Judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader and in turn the judicial head appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. The Supreme Court and the High Council of the Judiciary comprises of a single head with overlapping responsibilities. Jointly both supervise the enforcement of all laws and are responsible for establishing judicial and legal policies. The other types of Courts include a special clerical court, a revolutionary court, and a special administrative court.

It is to be noted that the judiciary of Iran have never been independent of political influence of the country. Another function of the judiciary includes nominating the six members of the Council of Guardians.


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