Chapter 8: The political system in Iran: theocratic electoral authoritarianism
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This chapter examines the political system in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a unique model of authoritarianism, the political system in Iran rests on dual sources of legitimacy. It combines elements of a modern Islamic theocracy with democracy. Islam bestows upon the state divine legitimacy, and elections and institutions of representation grant it popular legitimacy. The state is then theorised both as divine and popular; thus the idea of an Islamic Republic. However, the system does not give these sources of legitimacy equal weight. Divine institutions always have the upper hand over elected institutions. As a result, elections are at the service of unelected leaders and used to reinforce authoritarianism. The political system in the Islamic Republic of Iran can be best theorised as a theocratic electoral authoritarianism whereby it utilises democratic rituals and institutions of representation as instruments to reinforce the rule of theocratic authoritarianism.

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