As a self-styled anti-Western Islamic Republic, Iran has often been surprising in its adoption of Western political institutions, particularly its parliament. This detailed study of the Iranian majlis convincingly shows that competitive politics does take place in Iran, that real debates occur in the parliament, and that much can be learned about contemporary Iran by looking at this institution. Baktiari has interviewed many of the deputies and has read much of the primary material. It needs to be stressed, of course, that the Council of Guardians, a body of 12 Islamic jurors, has the right to exclude candidates from parliamentary elections on any grounds and has used this power quite widely. So one cannot speak of democracy at work, but there is nonetheless more political pluralism in evidence in Iran today than in many other Middle East countries. Long on empirical evidence, the book is less satisfying when it comes to broader themes and theory. Still, it is a unique study of a unique institution.
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