Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics

Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics

Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics

Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics


"The first and... only extended examination of the politics of the Iranian Majles in the post-revolutionary period."--Gary G. Sick, Columbia University
In this first major English-language study of the Iranian parliament, Bahman Baktiari analyzes the intense rivalry between competing factions in the parliament--known as the Majles--and describes the political battles that have set the tone for many of the key policy developments in Iran. He examines how elections are organized, how candidacies are approved, and how the parliament is structured internally.
Since the revolution of 1979, the institutionalization of revolutionary politics has led to an assertive parliament as
a major force in the Islamic Republic but with turnover ratio of 60 percent, one of the highest in the world. Thus the parliamentary politics described in this book is a microcosm of the wider factional politics in revolutionary Iran today.
Incorporating personal interviews with more than sixty members of parliament, primary sources from various research centers in Iran, and first-hand observation of parliamentary deliberations, Baktiari's study illuminates an important dimension of the political evolution of this radical Islamic state. Bahman Baktiari is associate professor of political science at the University of Maine and author of studies in the Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Journal of Middle East and South Asian Studies, and Journal of Church and State.


The Iranian revolution of 1979 was the first modern revolution that incorporated religious terms and was led by a clergyman, Ayatollah Ruholla M. Khomeini. in contrast to other such uprisings, it took place in major urban areas. the revolution against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was successful because a mosaic of different forces united for the single objective of overthrowing him.

Since 1979, scholars have studied many aspects of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Internal factionalism, the war with Iraq, economic policies, and relations with the United States are some of the areas that have received enormous attention. However, one conspicuous absence in the study of revolutionary Iran is a systematic analysis of the role and significance of the institution of the Iranian Majles, or parliament.

Moreover, the stability of the Islamic Republic is linked to the institutionalization process and the creation of a Majles that plays an important role in the policy-making process. This makes the Iranian system, at least in formal terms, more democratic and decentralized.

This book is an analysis of parliamentary politics in postrevolutionary Iran. It examines the dynamics of parliamentary politics from three different levels: the influence of the Majles on the domestic and foreign policies of the Islamic Republic, the degree to which the factional alignment of forces within the Majles is an accurate reflection of wider factional disputes in other centers of power in the country, and how sudden political changes-- the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the constitutional revisions of 1989, the U.S. military confrontation with Iraq--have impacted the overall influence of the Majles. Indeed, if there is one lesson to be learned from the dynamics of revolutionary politics in Iran, it is that there is a constant interaction within a mosaic of forces which demonstrate adaptability in a constantly changing political arena. It is also hoped that the multidimensional nature of the presentation will give the reader additional knowledge of other dimensions of politics in revolutionary Iran.

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