Transition to democracy is an intricate process, entailing a complicated set of internal and external, mental, and material conditions. It minimally requires a ruling class that is bereft of legitimacy and lacks the requisite resolution to rule––one beset with chronic division in its ranks. This division and irresolution must be accompanied by unity and resolution amongst the ruled. Indeed, a crucial political prerequisite for transition to democracy is a citizenry that is dedicated to the rules of a democratic polity and to an opposition leadership that offers a coherent plan of action.
There has been something of a consensus amongst social scientists that democratic transition demands a vibrant and viable middle class with a certain level of education and income. Some social scientists, for example, suggest $7,000 as the minimum necessary annual income for such a class. Democracy needs the rudiments of a civil society and a network of autonomous institutions capable of performing a dual set of interrelated functions. It must be able to socialize the citizens in the rules of a democratic “social contract,” while protecting the same citizenry from the excesses of the often overreaching power of the state.
Even a cursory look at Iranian society on the eve of the 14 March 2008 parliamentary elections shows a discordant image of a society dangling in the long limbo of warranted but unrealized change, a society where most of the conditions for a transition to democracy—save a cogent leadership in the opposition—have been realized but no such
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