Is Iran Undergoing a Political Shift?

Is Iran on a path towards more progressive laws? Some interesting developments out of the country are showing that a demand for popular power is growing. Support for political inclusion, via referendums voted on by the people, might have the potential to shift power within the country. However, to understand why these ideas are an advancement, let’s take a quick look at the Iranian political system.

For the most part, Iranian politics seem similar to most political systems found around the world. There is a President who is elected along with members of parliament who create and vote on laws. But there’s a second layer to the Iranian government. This lies in the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is in charge of the army and creating policies and trends within the country.

It’s a hard job and he simply cannot do it alone, so instead the Ayatollah appoints the Council of Guardians to oversee Parliament and help steer the country in the direction he sees fit. As you can imagine, with such control over the Parliamentary systems, there isn’t much room for dissent.

Yet recently the elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has called for referendums to be introduced into the country. Speaking at a conference, he was quoted as saying, “It will be good to, after 36 years, even for once, or even every 10 years if we implement this principle of the Constitution, and put important economic, social and cultural issues to a direct referendum instead of to the Parliament.”

Since Iranian youth and culture has liberalized considerably in the past few years, this sets a dangerous paradigm for members of Parliament and the Ayatollah to consider. The cultural divide in Iran between those under 30 and those who went through the 1979 revolution is considerable. Sources close to the government dismissed the idea as a distraction, telling reporters the president was underestimating the difficulty of organizing a referendum.

President Rouhani also made headlines last year when he banned the morality police (yes that really is a thing there) from arresting women for being ‘inappropriately dressed.’

Yet it does seem that the Council of Guardians is listening to the general public after they struck down a strict new law that made its way through Parliament. Dubbed the Plan on Protection of Promoters of Virtue and Vice,” the law would have clamped down on recent gains made by Iranian women. For instance, it authorized verbal warnings to be given out to women who didn’t meet dress codes. Employers would also be held responsible for ensuring their female employees came to work dressed appropriately. Companies that didn’t enforce dress codes would have been subject to fines.

Dress codes have relaxed considerably inside the country. Where once women were expected to wear loose, black chadors, these days women can often be seen in skinny jeans, tight jackets and hijabs (headscarves) worn far back on their heads. Men’s fashion has also undergone a shift, with a rise in contemporary western styles.

In 2009, the Green Revolution shook Iran as thousands of youth activists took to the streets and demanded change from the strict regime. While the moderate nature of their new president has given many a hope that they can change government from within, many still worry that as long as there’s a religious council dictating life, moving forward will be a struggle. 


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Leanne B.
Leanne B4 years ago

Thank you

William Moorman
William Moorman4 years ago

Thank You

Paul Carter
Paul Carter4 years ago

I have Iranian friends. They escaped when the religious coup made life intolerable. They describe a country that could have been the perfect holiday destination with everything from high culture to skiing and sun-bathing on the beach on offer - before the coup. Now the youth want their country back. The old men are afraid of losing control and are reluctantly letting up on restrictions bit by bit. The trouble is the "leaders" in the West and the religious leaders in Iran need each other as enemies because if they have no enemies who can they claim to be defending us from.

Teresa W.
Teresa W4 years ago

thank you

Dawn W.
Dawnie W4 years ago

They are human beings the same as every last one of us wherever we hail from. As with everywhere there are the good, honest citizens and in the mix there is always a couple of curve balls that are different from the majority. These curve balls, no matter what box or country one finds them in, are all the same, bad apples and cause trouble at their every opportunity. We have plenty of our own rotten apples and we don't need to look elsewhere to find them. I hope Iran will prosper and her people enjoy a nice peaceful life, this is the aim of everyone wherever they reside. Iran was a place of wonderful artistry, music and medicine in days gone past and it could well be again. But the powerful Mullahs will need to be dropped down a peg or two.

♥(✿◠‿◠✿)♥*♥˚☻Love & Peace☻go with☻you all.☻˚♥*♥(✿◠‿◠✿)♥

Rita odessa
Rita Odessa4 years ago

You go Iran!!!