Sunday, June 12, 2005

Presidential elections from standpoint of Constitution - Irna

Presidential elections from standpoint of Constitution - Irna: "Presidential elections from standpoint of Constitution Tehran, June 12, IRNA
9th Presidential Election-Constitution -- (1)
Under Iran's Constitution, presidential election includes several stages, beginning with a formal declaration of candidacy, moving on through a vetting of qualifications and finally a popular vote.

Each Iranian reaching maturity can declare his readiness to be a candidate. Then the Guardian Council, the official interpreter of the Constitution, must review his qualifications for the presidential post. The Guardian Council vouches the competency of the nominees in accordance with the guidelines and conditions laid down in the Constitution. Having investigated the individuals, the Council announces the names of the nominees that are candidates for the presidential elections.

The Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution says the president should be prudent and wise, with track record in an executive position. Presidential candidates should have a firm belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and should be faithful to the Constitution. The president is elected by popular vote. He must win an absolute majority, more than 50 percent of the votes cast, in the first phase of the elections. If none of the candidates gains a simple majority in the first round of voting, then a second vote will take place on Friday of the following week. The second round is limited to the two candidates who received the greatest number of votes in the first round. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran says any Iranian, above the age of 15, can take part in the process and freely vote for the candidate of his or her choice.

A total of 45 million eligible voters are expected to vote in the 9th presidential election. They will freely choose their candidate.

Formation of a cabinet is one of the most important duties of the president, who serves as the chief executive. The president selects qualified individuals for posts and suggests them to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis). The Majlis investigates the qualifications of these individuals. They sometimes accept a complete slate as proposed by the president, giving the group a vote of confidence. Sometimes they evaluate them on an individual basis. If 10 of the lawmakers reject one of the proposed ministers, the Majlis should arrange a parliamentary polling for a vote of confidence.

The president becomes the Chief Executive through the formation of his government. If the president himself becomes the subject of the accusations of shortcoming, failure, betraying the country or if he suffers through a major political problem, the Majlis can dismiss him.

This requires the agreement of at least two-thirds of the lawmakers.

This was the case with Iran's first president after the Islamic Revolution, Abolhassan Banisadr. The Majlis removed him, based on the Constitution. Though separating the three branches of government, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution deems the Majlis -- the representative of the public -- responsible for monitoring the president and his government. The chief executive is always responsible to the Majlis, because of this same reasoning.

Under the Islamic Republic of Iran's Constitution, the three branches of government are separate from each other. None of the three branches of government -- the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary -- have the right to interfere in each other's affairs.

There are specific exceptions to this general rule, outlined by the Constitution. The Executive branch's relationship to the Legislative branch is a type of monitoring, a supervisory relationship. The Majlis supervises the government's performance and is alert to the execution of all duties of the ministers. The cabinet must carry out its duties. If in fact a minister fails to fulfill his obligations, it is sufficient for 10 lawmakers to offer a written request to the speaker of the Majlis. They ask for an investigation of the minister's qualifications. On certain occasions, the Majlis might intervene in the affairs of the Executive Branch, based on the Constitution. The Legislative branch confirms or rejects the annual state budget, compiled and presented by the head of the state. The Executive Branch offers the Budget to the Majlis for approval or referral to the president after investigation. Issues between the Legislative and Executive branches must be settled within a specific time. If a dispute becomes complicated and the two branches fail to reach an agreement, the case is referred to the Expediency Council. However, the Executive and Judiciary branches are completely independent of each other. It is just about impossible for either one to interfere in the other's affairs. But in an exceptional case, any digression on any individual's part, irrespective of post or rank, based on the law the Judiciary has the responsibility to act.

They inform the accused individual of charges brought against him or her, and try the individual. The Judiciary has the right to supervise the performance of the Executive Branch within the framework of the law.

Presidential elections in Iran are one of the most important elections in Iran. The election are of importance because the Executive Branch has a direct relationship with life of the public and has major impact on their social and economic well-being.

Therefore, the nation shows more sensitivity towards the presidential elections in Iran. In Islamic Iran, the presidential elections were held after establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran's system. Now the Iranian nation is about to take part in the 9th presidential elections. The number of participants in each presidential elections has been different. The least number of voters was recorded in 1993 when 52 percent of the eligible voters turned out. The highest number of voters for the elections was recorded in 1997 when 80 percent of the eligible voters had turned out in the process. Therefore, although differences are observed in terms of voter turnout in the presidential elections, it can be said that 64 percent of the eligible voters had on average participated in different presidential elections in Iran. An important point affecting elections, was the elections for the second terms of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani's presidential and also of Mr. Khatami. The voter turnout for both depleted in the second term compared to the first term and this is something usual in Iran's elections. The elections ahead are one of the elections than can open a new chapter for our nation. But most political observers believe that the voter turnout rate will not be less than 55 percent because chronology of the elections in Iran shows the voter turnout is on the rise.

Public participation in the elections is important and officials give weight to the issue, following it seriously. Since the process is democratic in basis, marks a sort of collaboration and solidarity between the system and the nation. The nation keeps following the system as long as it moves in line with interests of the nation. The nation elects the officials of its choice to act in line with its wishes. But in case of government's pubic defiance, the nation would have the right to refuse participation in the elections and boycott it. That's the natural right of any nation. Therefore, massive turnout of the public in the elections shows the nation's continued approval of the democratic process and its hope that the essential channel for materialization of its demand is the system. This has been the case in all the elections held in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the least number of the voters has been even higher than 50 percent. The case with Iran runs contrary to that in many so-called democratic Western states, where the voter turnout rate even lowers to 30 or 40 percent.

In another words, high public turnout in the elections is a sign of nation's hope on the system and their support for continuation of the community-system cooperation. This shows that the nation gives the chance to the system to meet public demands. But if the nation feels the government has stopped meeting public wishes, they would have the right not to take part in the elections and boycott it. The main point with the people since early days of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran has been their high turnout in the elections. In all the elections the voter turnout has been higher than 50 percent.

This shows that contrary to many so-called democratic states, the democratic process in Iran has been following a good process.

Another issue is that the political system in Iran is the product of an Islamic and popular revolution. It would be highly natural for the Revolution to insist on maintaining its popular base.

Hence public participation has been one of the basic variables.

So, serious plans should be adopted for permanent presence of the public on the political scene.

Participation is the core of any political system. Participation means the active presence of the populace in the political process.

This of course extends to voting. In the first through seventh presidential elections held in the Islamic Republic, almost unknown figures came on the scene and raised their platform. In the seventh elections the final number of candidates was eventually restricted to four. Relatively new figures distinguished themselves. Despite holding such posts as the minister of culture and Islamic guidance and also being the head of the National Library, Mr. Khatami was a newcomer to politics. He offered a new viewpoint on the political scene, and was warmly accepted by the voters of Iran. Despite the presence of four candidates in the seventh elections, one can say that essentially, there were only two approaches. These were specifically those of Mr.

Khatami and Mr. Nateq-Nouri.

In the eighth elections, the number of candidates for the presidency increased. In that round, candidates from governmental organizations participated. This does not however, mean the entry of new figures or unknown individuals, with heretofore-unannounced views.

The ninth elections will be held in a new atmosphere. This is the result of changes within the Iranian community after two terms of Khatami's presidency. The stage is set for totally new figures, who will offer new plans, plans compatible with social problems.

The presentation of new individuals at this juncture is worth investigation. In other words, the current needs of the country, both domestically and internationally, prompted the introduction of these candidates. Each one of them represents different views and approaches, as well as different solutions. The people will review the expectations and views of all. On the whole, it can be said that the new figures in these ninth elections reflect the existence of different views. These opinions concern the management of society and the willingness to resolve the problems of Iran. The presence of a definite, realistic program in the political, economic, cultural and diplomatic fields leads to a positive feeling. It is indicative of the dynamic interest of Iranians in deciding their fate.

The triumph of the Islamic Revolution, led by Imam Khomeini, changed the core of Iran's foreign policy, as well as the nature of the government and the domestic atmosphere. Iran followed a non- aligned strategy through the adoption of the `Neither-East-Nor-West' policy. The country disassociated itself from the eastern and western blocks. It left the Central Treat Organization (CENTO) and joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Iran cancelled arms purchase treaties from the West, following a policy independent of the big powers, a policy based on simultaneous disengagement.