Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2013. “Democratic Struggles and Authoritarian Responses in Iran in Comparative Perspective,” in Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran, Steven Heydemann & Reinoud Leenders eds. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, pp. 200-221.
Why did authoritarian rule recover from the rise of a prodemocratic reform movement in Iran after 2004? What explains the emergence of a powerful but ultimately unsuccessful mass movement in summer 2009? This chapter addresses these questions through a comparative framework that includes postcommunist and Arab authoritarian regimes. It also makes a contribution to broader scholarly debates about authoritarianism. First, while the capacities of a regime for repression, geopolitical conditions, and the distribution of economic endowments are obviously important for the sustainability of authoritarian rule, these structural and institutional factors by themselves do not explain the pace and direction of political change in these regimes. The perceptions of predominant political actors and the strategies they pursue especially during the critical junctures such as electoral moments are critical to understand political change. In electoral moments of uncertainty, political preferences become more malleable, interaction between the rules and the opposition becomes central for ultimate outcomes, and political opportunities expand. Authoritarian resilience depends on the ruling elite's management of this uncertainty and its ability to sustain its power without opting for total repression.
Güneş Murat Tezcür, Taghi Azadarmaki, Mehri Bahar, and Hooshang Nayebi, 2012. "Support for Democracy in Iran," Political Research Quarterly 65(2): 235-247.
This article presents the first systematic analysis of support for democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran and contributes to the scholarly literature on popular views of democracy in an authoritarian regime. It reaches three main findings. First, religiosity is strongly and negatively related with support for democracy. Second, education and age indirectly affect support for democracy; their effects are mediated through satisfaction with regime performance. Third, greater dissatisfaction with the regime strongly correlates with greater demands for democratization. The data come from a survey conducted in Tehran in 2008 and the 2005 Iranian World Values Survey.
Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2012. "Democracy Promotion, Authoritarian Resiliency, and Political Unrest in Iran," Democratization 19(1): 120-140.
This article argues that recent de-democratization in Iran can be best understood by analysing the interplay of domestic Iranian politics and two external developments. These were the colour revolutions in several post-communist states and the hostile US policies toward Iran after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Together they generated a political climate in Iran conducive to hardliner attempts to discredit and neutralize the reformist opposition. The regime tried to delegitimize the opposition by portraying it as being in the service of foreign elements and claiming it was seeking to foment a popular uprising. The consequences were twofold. On the one hand, the regime's identification of civic and political activism as threats to national security greatly reduced the manoeuvrability of the reformist opposition and contributed to their marginalization. These developments point to the limits and unintended consequences of democracy promotion in Iran. On the other hand, the post-electoral protests of 2009 exposed the limits of conspiracy discourse in silencing mass discontent. This article argues that the regime's attempt to portray the unrest as a foreign conspiracy failed to convince a large segment of the population.
Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2008. “Intra-Elite Struggles in Iranian Elections,” in Political Participation in the Middle East, Ellen Lust-Okar & Saloua Zerhouni eds. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, pp. 51-74.
This chapter offers an analytical survey of the elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) with a focus on two interrelated questions: 1) what are the major characteristics of, and the nature of political participation within, the elections in the Islamic Republic? 2) how do elections affect the evolution of factional politics? A main argument of this chapter is that elections primarily serve to perpetuate pluralist authoritarianism in the IRI. Rather than being catalyst for democratization or simply solidifying the regime's control over society, elections manage inter-factional conflict and introduce an element of uncertainty and dynamism to Iranian politics unparalleled in many other authoritarian regimes.