Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation

Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation

Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation

Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation

Synopsis

This volume provides an unparalleled and timely look at political, social, economic, and ideological dynamics in contemporary Iran. Through chapters on social welfare and privatization, university education, the role and authority of the Supreme Leader, the rule of law, the evolving electoral system, and the intense debate over human rights within and outside the regime, the contributors offer a comprehensive overview of Iranian politics. Their case studies reveal a society whose multiple vectors of contestation, negotiation, and competition are creating possibilities for transformation that are yet to be realized but whose outcome will affect the Islamic Republic, the region, and relations with the United States.

Excerpt

Daniel Brumberg and Farideh Farhi

Two signal events bracket this extraordinary collection of essays on political and social change in contemporary Iran. the first was the hotly contested reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, and the second was the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani to the presidency in June 2013. the 2009 poll precipitated massive demonstrations, as reportedly more than three million Iranians protested what they perceived as massive electoral fraud. For an exhilarating moment, it seemed as if the country’s robust authoritarian institutions were backing down in the face of the spontaneously formed Green Movement. But this was not to be. Instead, the security forces moved aggressively to complete a campaign of political repression that over the previous four years had nearly decimated President Mohammad Khatami’s left-of-center Reformist Movement. Leaders of the Green Movement were imprisoned or placed under house arrest, and the circle of repression was widened by a series of televised show trials that were reminiscent of Stalinist Russia, followed by the banning of two key reformist political parties: Islamic Iran’s Participation Front and Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution. But if these events seemed to usher in a new era of political darkness, Rouhani’s election in June 2013 shined an unexpected light on what had seemed like an endlessly dark tunnel. a veteran politician relying on open support from former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Khatami, he assembled an embryonic alliance of reformists, centrists, and even some veteran conservatives. Uniting behind his candidacy, this coalition helped Rouhani defeat a divided field of hard-liners and conservatives in a campaign that exposed serious disagreements within the regime regarding the direction of the country. After securing a firstround victory with 51 percent of the vote, Rouhani promised his supporters a new era of “moderation and prudence,” entailing a more conciliatory foreign policy abroad and greater political openness at home. Thus politics in Iran seemed to witness a resurrection and a burst of cautious optimism that surprised Iranians as much as it did the rest of the world.

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