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Creating Local Democracy in Iran
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  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: July 2022
  • Print publication year: 2022
  • Online ISBN: 9781009160926
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Book description

Empirically rich and theoretically informed, this book is an innovative analysis of political decentralization under the Islamic Republic of Iran. Drawing upon Kian Tajbakhsh's twenty years of experience working with and researching local government in Iran, it uses original data and insights to explain how local government operates in towns and cities as a form of electoral authoritarianism. With a combination of historical, political, and financial field research, it explores the multifaceted dimensions of local power and how various ideologically opposed actors shaped local government as an integral component of authoritarian state building. Ultimately, this book demonstrates how local government serves to undermine democratization and consolidate the Islamist regime. As Iran's cities and towns grow and develop, their significance will only increase, and this study is vital to understanding their politics, administration and influence.


‘Kian Tajbakhsh's study of local government under the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on careful and painstaking analysis of administrative and legal documents and is unmatched by any in current Iranian history.’

Saïd Amir Arjomand - State University of New York

‘This deeply personal and academically rigorous account of the efforts to advance political decentralization in Iran raises critical questions for scholars of governance and democracy. By documenting how decentralization was as likely to be embraced by supporters of centralized state power as by reform advocates or even pragmatic technocrats, we are shown the complexities inherent in building democracy from the ground up.’

Diane E. Davis - Harvard University

‘Kian Tajbakhsh’s understanding of Iran is manifest on every page of this book. He convincingly argues, much to his own discontent, how the authoritarian regime consolidates its rule through political decentralization. His work is important for anyone interested in local democracy – a powerful read.’

Peter Peter - Director of VNG International

‘Kian Tajbakhsh beautifully documents the tragedy of municipal democracy in Iran, from its hopeful beginnings in the mid-1990s to its defeat a decade later. Tajbakhsh was both a scholarly observer of the democratization movement and a participant, whose detention in Iran delayed this long-awaited book for years.’

Charles Kurzman - University of North Carolina


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