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Iran: Political Dynamics
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics


The Revolution replaced the old political elite, which had consisted of the Pahlavi family, wealthy families of the former Qajar dynasty, and wealthy industrialists and financiers, with a new political elite of Shia clergy and lay politicians of middle and lower middle class origin. The roots of most members of this new elite lay in the bazaar middle class. Thus, the values of the new elite and the attitudes they professed were the ones most esteemed by the bazaar: respect for entrepreneurial skill, distrust of capitalist methods, and religious conservatism. Since the Revolution, they have striven to create a political order that incorporates their shared vision of an ideal society based upon Islamic principles.

Although the new political elite has been relatively united as to the overall goals envisaged for the Islamic Republic, its members have been deeply divided over various political, social, and economic policies deemed appropriate for achieving long-term objectives. These divisions have been manifested in political developments and struggles in the years since 1979. This period has been characterized by four phases, each dominated by distinct political issues. The first phase coincided with the provisional government of Prime Minister Bazargan, from February to November 1979. The next phase, which lasted until June 1981, was marked by the political rise and fall of Bani Sadr. During the third phase, which ended in December 1982, the government survived a major armed insurrection. During the next phase, which began in 1983, the political elite has been involved in the process of consolidating the theocratic regime, and that process was continuing in late 1987.

Data as of December 1987

Last Updated: December 1987

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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