Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Iranian Democracy Cornered | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian democracy may be one of the most peculiar of our time. The constitution is sectarian and not one for a civil state, and unlike all modern countries, authority does not lie in the hands of the nation. As it stands, religious figures have complete control over the political process.

The Constitution Guardian Council in Iran makes decisions on which candidates should stand for election, by determining whether they are “loyal”. There is a disregard for the democratic values of civil society, as they alone measure each candidate’s merit. The Constitution Guardian Council stands as a warning of the dangers involved in allowing religious figures to rule society.

When thousands put their names forward as potential candidates for the presidential election, only eight were approved. It is no wonder that out of the 48 million electors, only 20 million visited the ballot boxes.

Men of religion have an agenda that does not integrate well with the ideas of a multi-party civil society, which evolves with time. Jurisprudence changes and moulds according to the changes in society, and a contradiction occurs when religious figures try to merge their own fixed religious doctrines with the ever-changing shifts within the civil and legal worlds.

If the current situation in Iranian politics continues, there may be trouble to come. Reformists have attempted to end financial and administrative corruption, with the hope of reviving public life. Similarly Khatami inspired a lobby of women and youth, who aspired for change, but as always, they were opposed by a religious movement that continues to interfere in State related issues. Then came the Conservative Party, who entered into the same vicious circle.

The stagnant state of Iranian politics clearly suggests a genuine need for reform, beyond that offered by the conservatives and reformists. Iran has a history of strong political traditions, and is a place where people have held legitimate dreams about development and progress. Surely, with time, Iran will witness unprecedented change, as it faces this political crisis.

History has proved, that countries controlled through ideology, bear the seeds of a crisis. People will not be convinced by empty slogans, as these slogans do not solve their problems.