Freedom in the World
Iran received a downward trend arrow due to the rising economic and political clout of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, extensive efforts by the government to restrict freedom of assembly, and the sentencing of the entire leadership of the Baha’i community to lengthy prison terms.
Intense government repression at both the street and elite levels ensured that opposition protests stemming from the flawed 2009 presidential election were significantly reduced after February 2010. Throughout the year, members of the public, journalists, political activists, ethnic and religious minorities, and high-profile politicians and their families were subjected to intimidation, arrests, and violent attacks. As the regime relied more heavily on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to maintain power, the organization continued to acquire economic concessions and political influence at the expense of civilians.
Iran is not an electoral democracy. The most powerful figure in the government is the supreme leader (Vali-e-Faghih), currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is chosen by the Assembly of Experts, a body of 86 clerics who are elected to eight-year terms by popular vote, from a vetted list of candidates. The supreme leader, who has no fixed term, is head of the armed forces and appoints the leaders of the judiciary, the chiefs of state broadcast media, the commander of the IRGC, the Expediency Council, and half of the Council of Guardians. Although the president and the parliament, both with four-year terms, are responsible for designating cabinet ministers, the supreme leader exercises de facto control over appointments to the Ministries of Defense, the Interior, and Intelligence.