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4 - The Constitution, Elections, and Legitimacy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2023

Mehran Kamrava
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Qatar
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Summary

There is a direct and important relationship between elections, clientelism, and the system’s legitimacy. Urban Iranians may be skeptical toward the efficacy of their vote. But rural Iranians seem to view their electoral rights differently. The fact that participation levels in remote and comparatively underdeveloped provinces has been consistently high shows that at least among the less privileged, the system enjoys continued legitimacy. Local elections help further enhance the system’s legitimacy. This is particularly the case in voting districts outside of the major metropolitan areas, in places where the local elites who get elected to the city council or the Majles serve as critical links between the system, the nezam, and the local population. In the smaller cities and towns, elections tend to be more vigorously contested because the rewards are more immediate. Legitimacy and system effectiveness are different matters altogether. One of the biggest consequences of electing clan and tribal leaders has been the apolitical marginalization of technocrats and other professionals and their diminished chance of getting into elected office.

Type
Chapter
Information
Righteous Politics
Power and Resilience in Iran
, pp. 72 - 105
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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