Iran before and after the advent of Islam was ruled by monarchy systems. All political, social, and economic subjects were under the supervision of a king and the masses thought the king has divine power. After the rise of Islam in 651 C.A., although some administrative structures altered and religious tenets prevailed in the country, people still followed kings and had no role in governmental decisions.
During the Qajar Dynasty (1796-1925), a group of scholars was sent to Europe for education. Under the influence of the European system of thought, they tried to raise the Iranian masses’ awareness of international issues. After the death of Naser al-Din Shah (reign: 1848-1896) as well as the efforts made by these scholars, the people’s perception of the king’s divine power was deteriorated. Some clergies specifically and people generally demanded participation in the country’s political affairs.
In 1911, a great revolution entitled “The Constitutional Revolution” took place in Iran, leading to a decrease in the power of the monarchy system and in contrast, the establishment of a parliament. However, the Constitutional Revolution was not deemed fully successful since religion and politics were kept separate from each other, while deep religious beliefs and tenets were prevailing in the country. In the end, the Islamic Revolution happened in 1978 and the new constitution based on Islamic law was proclaimed.
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the head of the state and he is the highest-ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, followed by the President. The armed forces, the judicial system, television and radio, the Expediency Discernment Council, and other key governmental organizations are under the control of the Supreme Leader. With regard to presidential elections, the Guardian Council first assesses the primary respective candidates and those who are approved can start their presidential campaigns as official candidates.
The president will be selected finally with the vote of people for a four-year period. President can be reappointed for the second round of four years if he is selected again by people. The state ministers are nominated directly by the president but their final appointment must be approved by the parliament. President is also in charge of the National Security Council and the enforcement of the constitution.
The legislative system of Iran consists of two complementary components including a unicameral parliamentary chamber called the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the Council of Guardian. All the bills passed by the parliament have to be passed also by this council if they are to be considered enacted laws. Its members are elected every four years by a direct vote of people. The judicial system is in charge of supporting individual and social rights, observing appropriate enforcement of laws, passing judgment on grievances, punishing criminals, bringing justice and legitimate freedoms.