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The causes of the failure of democracy in Iran 1941-1953

Torfeh, Massoumeh (1997) The causes of the failure of democracy in Iran 1941-1953. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004616


This thesis uses a comparative method of study to analyse the main reasons for the failure of efforts for democratisation in Iran in 1941-53. The documents of the Foreign Office in London are compared with those of the State Department in Washington, and many are published for the first time. The complete proceedings of the Majlis, or Iranian parliament, in this period, together with several of the major Iranian newspapers, are also used as further bases of investigation and comparison. The conclusions of the thesis are that in this period the traditional political structure in Iran was still so powerful and dominant that efforts towards democratisation could not defeat it. It is argued that five main sources of power, which maintained they wanted to create democracy in Iran, were inherently too weak and disorganised to do so and they all finally opted for their own survival rather than for the democratisation of Iran. An attempt is made to show how the traditional structure of politics, and among other factors traditional value systems, national characteristics, intrigues, favouritism and nepotism hampered the development of democracy. It is also argued that a lack of experience in democratic conduct, a lack of consensus on democratic norms, a lack of respect for the law, and a lack of mechanisms necessary for accountability were some of the major elements that made the achievement of democracy an extremely hard task. In conclusion, it is argued that the experience of Iran underlines some of the key elements of theories of democracy, such as the importance of consensus on democratic norms and experience in democratic conduct, while negating others, such as the theory that modernisation in a country leads to democracy. It is also argued that pluralism does not necessarily indicate the existence of a liberal democratic government. Moreover it is suggested that in any theorisation about a traditional society such as Iran, traditional value systems must be taken into consideration. A question is also posed at the end of the thesis as to whether democracy in the purely Western sense is necessarily the most suitable form of government for traditional societies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1997 Massoumeh Torfeh
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment

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