Iran’s President and Supreme Leader

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Iran’s re-elected president Hassan Rouhani has been sworn in for his second term. Hassan Rouhani is the seventh and current President of Iran, a position he has held since 2013.

He is also a lawyer, academic, former diplomat and Islamic cleric. He has been a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts since 1999, member of the Expediency Council since 1991,  and a member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989.

Rouhani won re-election in the 2017 election with 23,636,652 votes (57.1%). He became the third Iranian President, after Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to win a presidential victory as an incumbent with an increased electoral mandate.

The President of Iran is the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The President is the highest popularly elected official in Iran (however, the president is still required to gain the Leader’s official approval before being sworn in before the Parliament, and the Leader also has the power to dismiss the elected president anytime).

The President carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country’s head of state.

Unlike the executive in other countries, the President of Iran does not have full control over anything, as these are ultimately under the control of the Supreme Leader.

Chapter IX of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran sets forth the qualifications for presidential candidates. The procedures for presidential election and all other elections in Iran are outlined by the Supreme Leader.

The President functions as the executive of the decrees and wishes of the Supreme Leader. These include signing treaties and other agreements with foreign countries and international organizations, with Supreme Leader’s approval; administering national planning, budget, and state employment affairs, as decreed by the Supreme Leader.

The President also appoints the ministers, subject to the approval of Parliament, and the Supreme Leader who can dismiss or reinstate any of the ministers at any time, regardless of the president or parliament’s decision.

The President of Iran is elected for a four-year term by direct vote and not permitted to run for a third term or serve for more than 8 years in the office.

Supreme Leader of Iran:

The Supreme Leader of Iran is the head of state and highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The armed forces, judicial system, state television, and other key governmental organizations are under the control of the Supreme Leader of Iran.

The current longtime Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has been issuing decrees and making the final decisions on economy, environment, foreign policy, education, national planning such as population growth, and everything else in Iran.

Khamenei also makes the final decisions on the amount of transparency in elections in Iran, and has fired and reinstated Presidential cabinet appointments.

This post was established by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran in accordance with the concept of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist.

According to the Constitution, the powers of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the Absolute Guardianship and the Leadership of the Ummah that refers to the Supreme Leader.

The Supreme Leader is more powerful than the President of Iran and appoints the heads of many powerful posts in the military, the civil government, and the judiciary.

In its history, the Islamic Republic has had two Supreme Leaders: Ruhollah Khomeini, who held the position from 1979 until his death in 1989, and Ali Khamenei, who has held the position since Khomeini’s death.

In theory, the Supreme Leader is appointed and supervised by the Assembly of Experts. However, all candidates to the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis (Parliament), are selected by the Guardian Council, whose members are selected by the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Also, all directly-elected members after the vetting process by the Guardian Council still have to be approved by the Supreme Leader.

As such, the Assembly has never questioned the Supreme Leader. There have been instances when the current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has publicly criticized members of the Assembly of Experts, resulting in their arrest and dismissal.

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