Iran on a Path Back to Full Democracy?

The President of Iran, the entire Iranian Parliament, as well as the Leaders of every city, town and village across Iran, are chosen by democratic elections in this country of over 80 million people. There is much enthusiasm in Iran’s elections,

Supporters of Iranian political parties rally enthusiastically in 2017. 

Note that many women’s hair is clearly visible, the scarves being merely token. The ladies are stylish and wear bright colours. People mix freely outdoors.  

Political polling in Iran is conducted by both  local and western polling agencies during their elections. 


Iranian Presidential polling data from Washington based polling company “IPPO Group”.

Presidential debates are broadcast on live TV in Iran, just like we do in the Western elections. It’s all pretty normal isn’t it?

Turnout on election day in the 2017 Iranian Presidential election was over 70%, a very healthy result, although this did drop in 2020.

Turnout for Iran’s Parliamentary Elections is often even higher – it has reached a whopping 85% in the past, a turnout which puts every western nation to shame, but even the more normal turnout of 65 – 75% is still excellent by any standard.

Iran’s Parliamentary make up in 2017 – 290 Electorates or Districts


The Iranian parliament was established in 1907, after the 1905-07 Constitutional Revolution by the Iranian people. 

(Yes, there was an Iranian revolution earlier in the 20th century than the one we know about, but it is little publicised in the western media and for good reasons – it is a shameful episode perpetrated upon Iran by the UK & USA, but that is a subject for another post.)

There are over 40 political parties active in Iran, split roughly 50:50 between “reformists” and “traditionalists.” The recent 2020 elections saw a traditionalist type candidate Ebrahim Raisi bought to power, replacing outgoing reformist President Hassan Rouhani, who had served the maximum 2 terms and was not eligible to run again.

Perhaps because of the hardship and suffering inflicted upon the Iranian people by American sanctions, and the refusal to lift those sanctions, even temporarily, to provide relief from Covid 19, a more traditionalist candidate was elected President. This might also have resulted from the candidates approved to run for President being more aligned to traditionalist causes.

After progressive President Rouhani had negotiated in good faith with the Americans and signed the 2015 JCPOA Nuclear agreement to enable sanctions relief along with Iran agreeing to international nuclear inspections, Iran was betrayed by the American government when the Trump administration unilaterally broke the agreement in 2018.

Promised sanctions relief was short lived and even more harsh sanctions were put in place after 2018.

Iranians used to enjoy a full participatory democracy until 1953, so it’s hardly surprising that large remnants of their genuine democracy and enthusiasm still exist. It’s hardly their fault that the democratic system they once enjoyed for nearly 50 years, was destroyed by the very same people who today, criticise Iran for not being democratic enough – the Western Nations, particularly America and Britain.

Yes, it is successive governments of the USA and UK who can go on camera in front of their people and criticise Iran when it was the exact same two nations that took away the very hard fought democracy from the Iranian people in 1953, then lied about doing so and then continued to critcise and persecute Iran right up until today.

The current Iranian administrative organization (post 1979) has aspects to it that westerners might not identify with nor understand. However, Iran comes from an ancient culture – Persian – and its people are educated and clever. (the outgoing President Rouhani went to university in the UK).

Modern Iran has had a turbulent history, much of the blame for which can be directly attributed to British and American meddling in their affairs.

But that is a long story that will be covered in future posts. It is enough here just to recognise that Iran can choose a colourful path back to full democracy if only outsiders would stop interfering. The Iranian people have won full democracy before and I am sure they can do it again if they choose to as a nation.

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"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Goethe

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