Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


The world watched Iran in 200 9 to see what the aftermath of its presidential election would hold. It seemed as if the stage was set for regime change - all requisite factors appeared to be present. Yet the theocratic Iranian regime that has been in place since 197 9 remains as entrenched as ever. This leaves us at an interesting juncture. What is the reason for this entrenchment? What explains the fact that the 2009 election did not spark a successful democratic transition? I posit that Iran has an additional factor that must be taken into account when considering democratic transition: its institutional structure. It is not enough for the opposition to coalesce around a symbolic figure - they must coalesce around a real leader with enough power to push for democratic change. However, if this leader is to arise out of the system, he or she will likely be tainted by the system through which power was gained. This phenomenon will stunt any push for change that might come from within the ranks of the elites. As the result of a systematic examination of normal mechanisms for the occurrence of regime change, this study concludes, then, that a push must then come from elites outside of the system if Iran is to achieve democratic transition.