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Iran: The Power Struggle Intensifies
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > The Power Struggle Intensifies


In July 1999, police and vigilante attacks on student demonstrators at Tehran University led to riots in several districts of Tehran. Khatami banned demonstrations, but the protests continued. In reaction, a group of commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened a coup d’état against Khatami (see The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), ch. 5). Hundreds of protesters were injured, and some 1,400 were arrested before order was restored.

Khatami stated that he would address the protesters’ concerns and crack down on vigilantes, but he also reaffirmed his support for Iran’s Leader, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, who charged that foreign enemies of Iran had instigated the demonstrations. Many protesters received long prison terms. However, Khamenei replaced the conservative judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi with Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, who promised to reform the judiciary.

In preparation for the February 2000 parliamentary elections, the Second of Khordad coalition registered slates of multiple candidates to thwart potential Guardians Council vetoes. The conservatives in the judiciary and parliament closed reformist newspapers, raised the voting age from 15 to 16 to reduce the youth vote, and arrested Abdullah Nuri, the most popular reformist candidate, on spurious charges. When former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani announced his candidacy for one of the 30 at-large seats in Tehran, the major conservative political organizations backed him, hoping that he would be named speaker and thus prevent the reformists from taking control of that office. Despite the backing of the centrist Executives of Construction, Rafsanjani failed to gain reformist support (see The Centrist Faction, this ch.).

Because the Guardians Council unexpectedly vetoed only a small number of candidates, the Second of Khordad coalition achieved a decisive victory in the elections, winning 71 percent of the seats filled in the first round, while conservatives won only 21 percent. More women and fewer clerics won seats than in the 1996 parliamentary elections, and voter turnout was 80 percent. These results mirrored those of the 1997 presidential election and the 1999 local council elections, confirming that the reformist movement enjoyed overwhelming popular support.

Data as of 2008

Last Updated: January 2008

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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