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Reformists and The Sovereign's Decree

24 May 2005

On 23 May, upon the recommendation of the Parliament's Speaker, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the Council of Guardians to review the candidacy of two candidates that had been rejected by the Guardians. He, in effect, ordered the Guardians to accept them. One of these two candidates is a former member of President Khatami's cabinet, the pro-reform candidate, Dr. Moin.

Moin, during his campaign had indicated that his platform rejects the concept of "Sovereign's Decree". The question of "Sovereign Decree", and the reformists' opposition has been a controversial issue during the Khatami's mandate. It has exposed deep differences between the rival conservative/fundamentalist factions and the reformist factions of the regime.

The "Sovereign's Decree" is a constitutional practice that accords with the authoritarian components of the Islamic Republic's Constitution, derived from Section 110. Accordingly, the Supreme Leader has the right to directly interfere, through such sovereign decrees, in the daily activities of the elected institutions (such as the Parliament and the Presidency) and un-elected institutions of the government (such as the Guardian Council).

Perhaps, the most important example of such an exercise can be seen in the Supreme Leader's 2001 direct order to the Parliament to withdraw the progressive, anti-conservative Press Law Reform Bill from the Parliament's agenda permanently. The Supreme Leader, in so doing, cited "expediency/exigency".

"Expediency/exigency" is another fundamental concept in the Islamic Republic's Constitution. According to this concept, which has been repeatedly mentioned in sections 110, 112, and 177 of the Constitution, "the expediency of the regime in matters that are critical to its survival allows the Supreme Leader to ignore certain constitutional practices and thereby issue "Sovereign Decrees". In his most famous interference in the Parliament's deliberation on reforming the draconian Press Law to a more liberal one, the Supreme Leader justified his interference as follows: "If the enemies infiltrate our Press, this will be a big danger to our security".

Sharam Koldi

Read more at Sharam Koldi's blog S'can Iranic.

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