Obstacles to Free and Fair Elections in Theory and Practice under the Islamic Republic of Iran
By Majid Mohammadi
This exclusive Tavaana paper argues that holding free and fair elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran is impossible, presenting the arguments in four sections. It first discusses the status quo, the process of “electoral engineering” as a prevalent practice under authoritarian regimes, such as the Islamic Republic. Secondly, it discusses how the founding theoretical tenets of the regime’s political theology are fundamentally opposed to the principle of popular sovereignty, making holding free and fair elections under this regime effectively impossible. The third section elaborates on the Islamic Republic’s constitutional framework and how it impedes free and fair elections. Finally, the article shows how, despite certain pro-democratic tendencies amongst Iranian political factions and civil society, the broader historical, legal, and practical developments under the present regime have perpetuated authoritarian and illiberal processes in the elections to the point that elections have become increasingly unfair and unfree.