chapter  5
12 Pages

Shiism, Rentier State and Illiberal Democracy in Iran

ByMahnaz Zahirinejad

The most fundamental element of the concept of democracy is that citizens can choose their leaders in free, fair, and regular elections. Democracy dominance in the West has been formed based on liberal constitutions, while democracy in the Middle East has produced what is termed an 'illiberal democracy', due to the absence of a liberal constitution. Establishment of a liberal democracy was the aim during Iran's Constitutional Revolution in 1906, and again, during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The notion of Shia democracy is put forward by Mohsen Kadivar, Abdolkarim Soroush and Mohammad Khatami. Iran also ranks among the world's top 10 oil producers and top five natural gas producers. Hossien Mahdavy, an Iranian economist, was the first to coin the term 'rentier state', to explain situation of Iran. More oil production required foreign investments and the government had to embark on reforms in both domestic and foreign policies.