Iranians vote for a president on May 19. But in Iran’s system, it’s the Supreme Leader who always wins.
Ali Khamenei, who has held the position since 1989, is in a distinct group of political actors. Around the world, 21 individuals—monarchs, heads of one-party states, a military commander, and the Supreme Leader himself—hold vast executive power in unelected positions. Free from the “nuisance” of the popular vote, these leaders are immune to the political currents that rotate power in electoral systems.
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.