Abstract

The quest for democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a story of tiny steps forward overshadowed by heart-wrenching setbacks. The 19 May 2017 presidential election offers a window into the painful predicament of a democracy-minded society—demographically young, globally inclined, and social-media savvy—subordinated to an authoritarian polity. The reelection of Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist whose campaign had embraced reformism, scarcely dented the unwillingness of conservative forces to loosen their grip. And though fierce intraelite conflicts that began during the race have exposed cracks in the once-monolithic clerical regime, no one should underestimate the resiliency of Iran’s authoritarians or their determination to keep their grip on critical levers of power.

Abstract

The quest for democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a story of tiny steps forward overshadowed by heart-wrenching setbacks. The 19 May 2017 presidential election offers a window into the painful predicament of a democracy-minded society—demographically young, globally inclined, and social-media savvy—subordinated to an authoritarian polity. The reelection of Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist whose campaign had embraced reformism, scarcely dented the unwillingness of conservative forces to loosen their grip. And though fierce intraelite conflicts that began during the race have exposed cracks in the once-monolithic clerical regime, no one should underestimate the resiliency of Iran’s authoritarians or their determination to keep their grip on critical levers of power.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3214
Print ISSN
1045-5736
Pages
pp. 30-37
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-07
Open Access
No
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