Iran in Ferment: Civil Society’s Choice

Issue Date October 2009
Volume 20
Issue 4
Page Numbers 16-20
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In Iran, the supreme leader’s absolute power over the government emanates not from the people, but rather from the divine authority of the Twelfth (or Hidden) Imam. Elections are thus mere administrative procedures whose legitimacy depends upon the pre-election vetting of the candidates and the postelection approval of the results by the unelected, cleric-dominated Council of Guardians. Even so, it is clear that the civil-rights movement put its mark on the content of the 2009 presidential campaign and the rhetoric of the candidates. And while the movement may have miscalculated in assuming that some degree of popular sovereignty—waiting to be activated by the voting masses—lay dormant in the 1979 Constitution, the regime has nevertheless remained unable to usurp popular legitimacy.

About the Author

Ladan Boroumand is a historian and the cofounder and senior fellow at the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran. She is currently writing a book on the tectonic social changes taking place within the Islamic Republic of Iran.

View all work by Ladan Boroumand