Principal Government Officials
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution--Ayatollah Ali Hosseini-Khamenei
First Vice President--Mohammad Reza Rahimi
Foreign Minister--Manouchehr Mottaki
Ambassador to the United Nations--Mohammad Khazaee
Iran's Government Structure
Chief of State - Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini-Khamenei (since 4 June 1989)
Head of Government: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (since 3 August 2005)
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi (since 2009)
Cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
Three oversight bodies: 1) Assembly of Experts, a popularly elected body of 86 religious scholars constitutionally charged with determining the succession of the Supreme Leader - based on his qualifications in the field of jurisprudence and commitment to the principles of the revolution, reviewing his performance, and deposing him if deemed necessary; 2) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency, is a policy advisory and implementation board consisting of permanent members, who number over 40 and represent all major government factions and include the heads of the three branches of government, and the clerical members of the Council of Guardians (see next); permanent members are appointed by the Supreme Leader for five-year terms; temporary members, including Cabinet members and Majles committee chairmen, are selected when issues under their jurisdiction come before the Expediency Council; the Expediency Council exerts supervisory authority over the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and resolves legislative issues on which the Majles and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council's powers were expanded, at least on paper, to act as a supervisory body for the government; 3) Council of Guardians of the Constitution or Council of Guardians or Guardians Council is a 12-member board made up of six clerics chosen by the Supreme Leader and six jurists selected by the Majles from a list of candidates recommended by the judiciary (which in turn is controlled by the Supreme Leader) for six-year terms; this Council determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates for suitability, and supervises national elections
Elections: Supreme Leader appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; Assembly of Experts elected by popular vote for an eight-year term; last election held 15 December 2006 concurrently with municipal elections; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and third nonconsecutive term); Last held June 12, 2009.
Election results: - 39,165,191 ballots were cast, according to Iran's election headquarters. Ahmadinejad won 24,527,516 votes, (62.63%). In second place, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, won 13,216,411 (33.75%) of the votes. The election drew unprecedented public interest in Iran.
US State Department Report
The December 1979 Iranian constitution defines the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic. The document establishes Shi'a Islam of the Twelver (Jaafari) sect as Iran's official religion. Sunni Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity are the only other recognized, legal minority religions. The country is governed by secular and religious leaders through governing bodies, whose duties often overlap.
The Supreme Leader holds power for life unless removed by the Assembly of Experts. He has final say on all domestic, foreign, and security policies for Iran, though he establishes and supervises those policies in consultation with other bodies, including the National Security Council and the Expediency Council. The Supreme Leader is the final arbiter on nearly all disputes among the various branches of government, although the Expediency Council is charged with resolving disputes between the Majles and the Guardian Council. The Supreme Leader appoints officials to key positions including the head of judiciary and the Council of Guardians. He has the power to remove the president and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The constitution stipulates that the Assembly of Experts, which consists of 86 popularly-elected clerics elected to 8-year terms, chooses the Supreme Leader based on jurisprudent qualifications and commitment to the principles of the revolution. The Assembly of Experts reviews his performance periodically and has the power to depose and replace him. Pragmatic conservative candidates generally polled better than their hardline conservative opponents during the December 15, 2006 elections for the Assembly of Experts. (This vote coincided with municipal council elections, and turnout, according to unverified Iranian Government statistics, was reportedly 60%.) Citizens will not vote for representatives for the Assembly again until 2014.
The Council of Guardians consists of 12 persons. The Supreme Leader appoints the six religious members of the Council, while the Majles selects the six lay members from candidates recommended by the judiciary (which is, in turn, selected by the Supreme Leader). The non-clerics play a role only in determining whether legislation before the Majles conforms to Iran's constitution. The religious members, on the other hand, take part in all deliberations, considering all bills for conformity to Islamic principles. The Council of Guardians can veto any law. This body also certifies the competence of candidates for the presidency, the Assembly of Experts, and the Majles, and it has the power of approbatory supervision over elections.
The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran is elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term. The president supervises the affairs of the executive branch, appointing and supervising the Council of Ministers (members of the cabinet), coordinating government decisions, and selecting government policies to be placed before the Majles.
The Majles, or National Assembly, consists of 290 members elected to 4-year terms. Elections are held by secret ballot from amongst the candidates approved by the Council of Guardians.
In 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini created the Council for Expediency, which resolves legislative issues on which the Majles and the Council of Guardians fail to reach an agreement. Since 1989, it has been used to advise the Supreme Leader on matters of national policy as well. The Expediency Council is composed of the president, the speaker of the Majles, the judiciary chief, the clerical members of the Council of Guardians, and other members appointed by the Supreme Leader for 3-year terms. Cabinet members and Majles committee chairs also serve as temporary members when issues under their jurisdiction are considered. In 2005, it was announced that the Expediency Council, which now has over 40 members, would have supervisory powers over all branches of government, though that has not resulted in any noticeable change in this institution's day-to-day authority or operations.
Judicial authority is constitutionally vested in the Supreme Court and the four-member High Council of the Judiciary; although these are two separate groups, they have overlapping responsibilities and one head. Together, they are responsible for supervising the enforcement of all laws and establishing judicial and legal policies.
Iran has two military forces. The national military is charged with defending Iran's borders, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is charged with protecting the revolution and its achievements. The Qods Force, a fifth branch of the IRGC, is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad. The Qods Force provides aid in the form of weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, Lebanese Hizballah, Iraq-based militants, and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Iran has 30 provinces managed by an appointed governor general. The provinces are further divided into counties, districts, and villages. Sixty percent of eligible voters took part in the first-ever municipal and local council elections in 1999, although a lower percentage went to the polls in the second round in 2003. Turnout for the December 15, 2006 elections, during which citizens also elected Assembly of Expert representatives, was reportedly over 60%. The local councils select mayors.