Iran’s historical flirtation with democracy has been one of thwarted desires. The 1906 Constitutional Revolution introduced the concepts of liberal democracy to Iranian society, but success was limited by the lack of support from the ulama (clergy). After decades of authoritarianism, under both the Pahlavi family and the ayatollahs, Iran has little experience with modern democratic institutions. It is the argument of the authors that without a fully formed civil society, the lack of progress toward democracy will be prolonged, unless the religious elite come to consider democracy to be in Iran’s best interest. Given the seemingly domino-like effect of the Arab Spring, the ulama of Iran may not have much time before the push for democracy becomes an issue.

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