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SW Asia Government

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Chris Shaw

on 11 September 2016

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Transcript of SW Asia Government

SW Asia Government
Explain the structures of the national governments of Southwest Asia (Middle East).
--46a - compare the parliamentary democracy of the State of Israel, the monarchy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the theocracy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, distinguishing the form of leadership and the role of the citizen in terms of voting rights and personal freedoms
The State of Israel:
Federal Parilmentary Democracy

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
Unitary System-Absolute Monarchy
Saudi Arabia is the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula and it has the most influence in the region.

It is one of the few absolute monarchies left in the world today.
Members of the al-Saud family have ruled Saudi Arabia since 1932.

Most government officials are relatives of the king.
The king may ask members of his family, Islamic scholars, and tribal leaders for advice on decisions.
Islamic Republic of Iran-Theocratic Republic
In 1979, the Islamic (or Iranian) Revolution, overthrew the monarchy that had ruled Iran for centuries.
The Shah (king), who had been the monarch, had made Iran into a modern, less religious society.

Ayatollah Khomeini, who became Iran’s new leader, set up a religious dictatorship based on Islamic principles.
Government Systems – Who has the power?
Unitary--power is held by one central authority

Confederation--association of independent states that agree to certain limitations on their freedoms by joining together

Federal--power is divided between central authority & several regional authorities
Government Types – How do citizens participate?
Autocracy-- 1 person possesses unlimited power & citizens have limited role in government

Oligarchy-- small group exercises control & citizens have limited role in government

Democracy--supreme power is vested in the people & exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving free elections
Theocracy--form of government in which a god is recognized as the supreme civil ruler. Religious institutional representatives often replace or mix into the civilian government.
Oligarchical Leadership
Saudi Arabia is one of the few absolute monarchies left in the world today.

The king and his advisors, many of whom are his family members or influential business and religious leaders in the country, make all the laws.
Conservative religious leaders also have a great deal of influence in decisions made by the monarchy.

There is no written constitution; however, the Qur’an acts as the constitution.
Saudi Arabia is governed on the basis of Islamic law (Shari’a).

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a hereditary monarchy, which means the government is led by a king who comes from a family that has ruled the country for several generations.
The King of Saudi Arabia has been a member of the al-Saud family since the 1930s.

The people of Saudi Arabia do not choose the king.
When a king dies, the Saudi family announces who the next king will be from among their male family members.
Saudi Arabia’s legislature is called the Consultative Council.
It can propose legislation to the king, but has no legal powers itself.
There are 150 members and a chairman that is chosen by the king to serve 4-year terms.

The king chooses two-thirds of the members of the Council, while men in the country vote for the remaining one-third of the members.
The Council mostly consists of members of the royal family.
Role of Citizen

In 2004, men 21 and older were given the right to vote in local elections.
Men also vote for one-third of the members of the legislature.
There are no political parties in Saudi Arabia.

In 2015, women 21 and older were given the right to vote in local elections and hold political office.
Two Types of Democratic Governments
Parliamentary– citizens elect members of Parliament, and then the members select the leader
Leader works with or through the legislature

Presidential--system of government in which the leader is constitutionally independent of the legislature; citizens directly elect leader
Leader works separate from legislature

Knesset Building in Tel Aviv
Israel has a unitary system, which means that the national (central) government has all of the power.
The districts (states) are under central government control.
1. Prime Minister: holds the most political power; works closely with the legislature (the Knesset)

2. Chief of State: President; has little political power, mostly a ceremonial role
Benjamin Netanyahu - 2009
Prime Minister
Reuven Rivlin – 2014
How is the leader chosen?
President: largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit).

Prime Minister: serves a 5-year term; the President nominates a member of the Knesset and the other members vote on him/her. (Generally, the prime minister is usually the leader of the largest political party in the Knesset.)


Israel’s parliament is called the Knesset.
It is a unicameral governing body.

The Knesset passes all laws, elects the president & prime minister, and supervises the work of the government through its committees.

Israel does not have a formal constitution in place, but members of the Knesset have been working on one since 2003.
Parlimentary Democracy

Generally, whichever political party has the most members in the legislature selects the Prime Minister.

This is the major difference between a Presidential Democracy and a Parliamentary Democracy!
Parliamentary Democracy – legislature chooses the executive leader

In Israel, citizens vote for members of Knesset (parliament), then the elected members choose the Prime Minister.
Role of the Citizen

Citizens must be 18 to vote, but voting is not required by law.

As a democracy, its citizens must participate in voting and elections:
They elect members of Knesset.

Elections are held in Israel every four years.
Salman of Saudi Arabia - 2015
King of Saudi Arabia
Unitary System
Iran has a unitary system, which means that the national (central) government has all of the power.
The provinces are under central government control.
Theorcratic Republic

Iran has a unique political system that combines elements of a parliamentary democracy with a theocracy.

The people vote for members of a group called the General Assembly, who then elects the head of state of Iran, the Supreme Leader.

The Supreme Leader is always an ayatollah, or recognized religious authority, who follows the Islamic principles of Shari’ a law.
Supreme Leader (Ayatollah): head of state and highest ranking political and religious authority in Iran; appointed for life

President: the highest authority after the Supreme Leader (his/her power is limited by the Supreme Leader)
Ali Khamenei - 1989
Supreme Leader
Hassan Rouhani - 2013
How are leaders chosen?
Supreme Leader: elected by the Assembly of Experts (88 elected people who are also charged with supervising the leader’s activities)

President: elected by the Iranian people and serves a 4-year term

Iran’s legislature is unicameral and is called the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran (Parliament).

There are 290 members and they are elected by the people for 4-year terms.

Parliament drafts legislation, ratifies treaties, and approves the national budget.
Role of Citizen

Citizens must be 18 to vote, but voting is not required by law.

As a democracy, its citizens must participate in voting and elections:
They elect the 290 members of the Consultative Assembly.

Elections for the president are held every four years.
Election for the Assembly of Experts are held every six years.
Note Taking Choices and Graphic Organizers
Full transcript