WASHINGTON, DC – Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has never been happy about the status of the Iranian presidency – neither during his own tenure, from 1981-1989, nor during the terms of his three successors.
Tension between the president and the Supreme Leader is built into the Islamic Republic’s core. The Supreme Leader has absolute authority and can veto decisions made by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. At the same time, the president emerges from an electoral process with an agenda and ambitions of his own. During a president’s second term – which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has now begun – the tensions inevitably emerge into public view.