The Power of the Conservatives

In addition to these weaknesses of the reform-oriented forces, the strong position of power of the more radical faction also plays a major role.

The country’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who is both head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, politically dates back to the time of the revolution. He has been in power since 1989 and retains his office for life. Thus the most important figure in Iranian politics, far more powerful than the president, is a strict conservative.

Moreover, in Iran’s theocratic system of government, the Council of Guardians is responsible for controlling candidates for the presidency. This involves deciding whether a candidate has the necessary qualifications to hold the office. If, in the opinion of the council, a candidate does not have the necessary qualifications, he is not allowed to stand for election. There are twelve members of the Guardian Council, six lawyers and six theologians. Through this constellation, candidates who are theologically too suspicious can be kept away from the office of president.

In addition to these institutionalised processes, the influence of the Revolutionary Guards, which also control a considerable part of the country’s economy as well as military operations abroad, is also important. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example, also came from the Revolutionary Guards.

In view of the current developments, the conservative forces in the country will probably know how to play to their advantages. Three candidates of this wing stand out at the moment, and even if they do have diverse views and pursue different goals, a new radicalisation of Iranian politics seems imminent.

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