Over the past few weeks we have been bombarded by news, images and video clips from Iran drawing an uncensored picture of the nation-wide protests by the Iranian people against their president and its government.
Unraveling the complexitities of Iran's theorogracy is no easy task and figuring out how the government and its various facets operate can leave people at a loss when trying to decipher news from Iran.
We put together some facts and an easy-to-read chart of the disbursement of power within the Iranian government to help clear-up confusion.
The chart shows the breakdown of the most powerful parts of the Iranian government along with their respective checks and balances. While this does not reflect the heirarchy of power, it shows how each elected or appointed member of the legislative branch are vetted.
It must be noted that the Supreme Leader has an ultimate veto power over most decisions made by the other factions. In addition, any candidate that seems to disagree with the policies of the Supreme leader will get disqualified by either him or one of his vetting agencies.
Now more on the leadership.
Supreme Leader (Rahbar)
In its history, Iran has had only two Supreme Leaders: Grand Ayatollah Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, of the Islamic Republic, and the current Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The term for the Supreme Leader is a lifetime unless reassigned by the Assembly of Experts. The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts and is more powerful than the president. As the commander of all the armed forces, he can declare both War and Peace.
He also appoints the heads of many powerful posts, including the Head of the Judiciary along with the six clerics of the 12 member Guardian Council. He also controls the Expediency Discernment Council and can prevent the legitimization of any law, and he can dismiss the president after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Parliament testifying to his incompetence.
President (Raeess Jomhoor) and Cabinet
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current president, and his “First Vice-President” is Parviz Davoodi.
The president is elected by the direct vote of the people in a national election. Candidates for the presidency must be approved by the Council of Guardians. The president is responsible for the functions of the executive branch; such as signing treaties and agreements with other countries and international organizations; the national planning and budget and state employment affairs; appointing ministers, governors, and ambassadors subject to the approval of the Parliament.
The president does not have full control over foreign policy, the armed forces, or the nuclear policy of the Iranian state, which are under the control of the Supreme Leader. The president is elected for a four-year term and may not serve for more than two consecutive terms. However, he can run again after waiting at least one term.
Assembly of Experts (Majlise Khobregan)
The current chairman of this assembly is former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. All Assembly of Expert candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council and then are elected by direct public vote. They are charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities. The members serve an eight-year term. This Assembly has 86 Islamic scholar members, known as "Mujtahid." The assembly must meet for at least two days, twice annually.
Guardian Council (Shoraye Negahban)
The current chairman of this council is Ahmad Jannati. Six of the members of the Guardian council are clerics who are selected by the Supreme Leader and can be dismissed by Supreme Leader. The other six members are lawyers and are elected by the Parliament from a vetted list of candidates approved by the Head of the Judicial Power. The members of this council are charged with interpreting the Constitution of Iran, and vetting of the candidates to the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Parliament. Also any bill passed by the Parliament must be reviewed and approved by the Guardian Council. If any law is rejected, it will be passed back to the Parliament for amendments and if the Parliament and the Council of Guardians cannot decide on the bill, it is passed up to the Expediency Council for a decision. The members of this council are selected for a six-year term.
Expediency Discernment Council (Majmaeye Tashkheese Maslehate Nezam)
The current chairman of this assembly is former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The Expediency Discernment Council is an administrative assembly appointed by the Supreme Leader set up to resolve differences or conflicts between the Parliament and the Council of Guardians. It also plays an advisory role to the Supreme Leader. The members serve a five-year term.
Currently the council has 28 official members.
All Parliament candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council and are elected by direct public vote. Parliament is unicameral, meaning it has only one legislative or parliamentary chamber. It duties are to draft legislation, ratify international treaties, and approve the national budget. The Parliament can force the dismissal of cabinet ministers by no-confidence votes and can impeach the President for misconduct in office. All legislation from this assembly must be approved by the Guardian Council. This assembly has 290 representatives, five of whom represent non-Muslim religious minorities and are elected for a four-year term. The current speaker of the Parliament is Ali Larijani.
Head of the Judiciary (Ghoveyeh Ghazayeh)
The Head of the Judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader.
He vets the six lawyer candidates for the 12 member Guardian Council that then the Parliament chooses from. He is responsible for the establishment of the of the judicial system; drafting judiciary bills for parliaments; hiring, firing promoting and assigning judges. Judges cannot be dismissed without a trial. The Head of the Judiciary serves a five-year term. The current Head of the Judiciary is Mahmoud Shahroudi.