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					                                PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY OF ISRAEL

LEADERSHIP                           VOTING RIGHTS                     PERSONAL FREEDOMS
Parliamentary Democracy              Every citizen over 18 has right   Human rights and liberties
                                     to vote.                          part of basic law of Israel.
President is head of state –
ceremonial, honorary, or             Entire country is a single        Israel ranks 50 out of 168 for
figure headnominates                electoral district.               freedom of the press by
Prime Minister from Knesset                                            Reporters Without Borders.
based on vote in Knesset             Every citizen has one vote. All
                                     votes carry equal weight.       Amnesty International
Unicameral Legislature-                                              disapproves of Israel’s human
Knesset (also called                 Voting by secret ballot.        rights records due to Arab-
parliament)                                                          Israeli conflict.

Knesset members are elected
directly by the public.

Prime Minister- most
powerful- chief executive

                                          MONARCHY IN SAUDI ARABIA

LEADERSHIP                               VOTING RIGHTS            PERSONAL FREEDOMS
Monarchy – power inherited               Male citizens only 21    Strict Sharia law restricts
                                         and older.               freedoms.
King currently makes decisions
(autocracy) but the group of             Vote in local            Women’s rights are severely
princes will select the next king        elections only.          limited (according to Human
after the current one dies                                        Rights Watch and Amnesty
(oligarchy).                             There are no political   International).
                                         parties or national
Sharia law (Islamic law) rules the       elections.               Women are banned from driving
country.                                                          on public roads.

The Qu’ran is considered the                                      Women must wear modest
constitution.                                                     clothing in public. (Burqa
                                                                  mandatory in Saudi Arabia)

Council of ministers (prime                                       Dietary laws forbid eating pork
minister, first prime minister, 20                                and drinking alcohol.
ministers) sets policies.
                                                                  Public theaters and cinemas are

                                                                  Very little freedom of the press.

                                                                  Public practice of any religion
                                                                  other than Islam is prohibited.
                                       THEOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

LEADERSHIP                             VOTING RIGHTS           PERSONAL FREEDOM
Republic based on Islamic              Universal suffrage.     Freedom House rates Iran freer
ideology.                                                      than Saudi Arabia.
                                       Voting age: 16
Supreme leader defines and                                     Government demands compliance
oversees general policies. He is       Voter turnout is high   with Islamic law in personal and
not directly elected by the people.    – Iranians value what   public life.
                                       little democratic
He appoints a Council of               power they have.        Male-dominated society.
Guardians. They are not elected
by the people.                                                 Women are barred from
                                                               significant economic and political
The Assembly of Experts (86                                    roles.
“learned” clerics) elects and can
dismiss a supreme leader (none                                 Religious minorities – including
has ever been dismissed).                                      Sunnis – are granted little room
                                                               for participation (ethnic minorities
Iran does have a constitution.                                 as well).

The president is the highest leader                            Restrictions on freedom of
under the supreme leader.                                      expression.

However, the right to run for                                  Abuse, torture and imprisonment
office is controlled by religious                              without charge occur.
                                                               Attacks on demonstrators occur
Before the 1979 revolution, Iran                               regularly.
was a monarchy led by the Shah.
                                                               Political groups opposed to the
Post revolutionary Iran is populist.                           government are mostly repressed.

Religious organizations have the                               Recognized religions include
most important political role.                                 Zoroastrians, Jews, and
                                                               Christians, but their activities are
Government is dominated by                                     strictly controlled.
conservative clerics and
politicians.                                                   Freedom of assembly is written
                                                               into the constitution but is in fact

--The flag of Israel, most recently adopted on 12 November 1948, is white with two blue horizontal stripes. In
the center of the flag is the six-pointed Star of David. The blue stripes are reminiscent of the bluish strand of
thread on the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit) in the ritual fringes (tzitzit). Blue is meant to remind the Jewish people
to observe the commandments. White (also gold and purple) is the traditional color of the purity and spirituality
of the Jewish people. The Star of David has never been uniquely Jewish but became a popular and accepted
symbol of the Jewish people.

--Israel does not have a written constitution. The president performs ceremonial duties, but the Prime Minister
is head of government. All governments have been coalitions because no one party has been able to gain a
majority of votes in the Knesset (unicameral parliament). Its 120 members are elected by popular vote to four-
year terms; voters cast ballots for parties, not for individual candidates. The president is elected by the Knesset
for a five-year term. The Prime minister exercises executive power and is also chosen by the Knesset.


From 1948 to 1996 Israel’s Knesset (legislative branch) chose the prime minister. This made it a parliamentary
system because the voters did off choose the head of government. The head of government, in this case the
prime minister, make major government decisions. In Israel the president’s role is mainly ceremonial. In 1996 a
new law called the “Basic Law” allowed people to vote for their prime minister rather than the Knesset. In 2003
this law was rescinded and Israel they went back to the pre-1996 method of choosing their Prime Minister,
which was for majority party in the Knesset to choose. In 2006 Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert resigned
and Foreign Minister Livni was granted the additional title of Acting Prime Minister and was asked to organize
their government. Had she been able to form a government, she would have been the Prime Minister.
However, she was unable and, as a result, general elections were called for February 10, 2009. So even though
Israel is considered a parliamentary system they did vote for the current Prime Minister.

The highest court is the Supreme Court, whose judges are approved by the president.
Israel is dived into six districts, governed by the Ministry of Interior. The ministry of Defense is responsible for
the administration of the occupied territories.
         Constitution: no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of
                       Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law;
                       note - since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been
                       working on a draft constitution
         Legal system: mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish,
                       Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it
                       would no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
              Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
     Executive branch: chief of state: President
                       head of government: Prime Minister
                       cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
                       elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year
                       term (one-term limit);
    Legislative branch: unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
       Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three
                        branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)

--The flag of Saudi Arabia, most recently adopted on 19 November 1980, features a green background, a white
sword, and an Arabic saying: "There is no god but God: Muhammad is the messenger of God."

--The kingdom is divided into 13 regions called governorates, each of which is headed by a governor who is a
prince, or emir, who answers directly to the king. The king is chief of state and head of government; he rules
with the Council of Ministers.
The king (EXECUTIVE), crown prince, and Council of Ministers established all laws prior to 1992, when the king
issued a new “system of governance,” the first written body of law the kingdom has had. These new laws
changed the country's political structure and guaranteed citizens a number of basic rights. The Qur'an remains
the country's official “constitution.” The new system provides for a 120-member Consultative Council
(LEGISLATIVE) that advises the king and Council of Ministers. The Consultative Council can express its opinion
on any matters, review and initiate laws, and overrule cabinet decisions if the king agrees. Each governor also
has a 10-member Consultative Council, and governorates now have greater autonomy to make certain
decisions. The system of governance states that all kings after the current one will be elected by the princes
(there are more than five hundred). This will result in a transitional government from an autocracy to an

         Constitution: governed according to Islamic law
        Legal system: based on Shari'a law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled
                      by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
             Suffrage: 21 years of age; male
    Executive branch: chief of state: King and Prime Minister; the monarch is both the chief of state and head of
                      head of government: King and Prime Minister
                      cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many
                      royal family members
                      elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission created by royal
                      decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting
                      future Saudi kings, but the new system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan
                      becomes king
   Legislative branch: Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch
                       for four-year terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent
                       to introduce elections for half of the members of local and provincial assemblies and a third of
                       the members of the national Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura, incrementally over a period
                       of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced
       Judicial Branch Supreme Council of Justice

--The flag of Iran was most recently adopted on 29 July 1980. The national emblem, a stylized image of the
word Allah (God), is centered in the white band. Along an edge of both the green and red bands, the words
Allaho Akbar (God is Great) are written in Arabic. The phrase repeats 22 times in the design, signifying the 22d
of Bahman, victory day of the Islamic Revolution.

--Iran is a Theocratic Democracy. Elected by the people to a four-year term, the president (currently Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad) is head of government and official chief of state. Iran's supreme religious leader, the Ayatollah
Ali Hoseini-Khamenei, holds ultimate political power. A 24-member Council of Guardians (comprised of
religious and lay leaders) approves candidates for president, appoints judicial authorities, and has authority
over the constitution. Twelve members are elected; twelve are appointed. The Council of Guardians must
approve all legislation passed by the 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), whose members are
elected to four-year terms. All laws must be in harmony with the doctrines of Islam, as interpreted by the
Council. Women were given the right to vote in 1962.
            Legal system: based on Sharia law system
                 Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal
        Executive branch: chief of state: Supreme Leader
                          head of government: President
                          cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme
                          Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
                          note: also considered part of the Executive branch of government are three oversight bodies:
                          1) Assembly of Experts (Majles-Khebregan), a popularly elected body charged with
                          determining the succession of the Supreme Leader, reviewing his performance, and deposing
                          him if deemed necessary; 2) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of
                          Expediency (Majma-e-Tashkise-Maslahat-e-Nezam) exerts supervisory authority over the
                          executive, judicial, and legislative branches and resolves legislative issues on which the
                          Majles and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national
                          religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council's powers were expanded
                          to act as a supervisory body for the government; 3) Council of Guardians of the Constitution
                          or Council of Guardians or Guardians Council (Shora-ye Negaban-e Qanun-e Assassi)
                          determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law,
                          vets candidates for suitability, and supervises national elections
                          elections: Supreme Leader is appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president is
                          elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and third
                          nonconsecutive term); last held 17 June 2005 with a two-candidate runoff on 24 June 2005
                          (next presidential election slated for 12 June 2009)
       Legislative branch: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly (290 seats; members elected by popular vote to
                           serve four-year terms)
                           elections: last held 14 March 2008 with a runoff held 25 April 2008 (next to be held in 2012)
                           election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - conservatives/Islamists 170, reformers
                           46, independents 71, religious minorities 3
          Judicial branch: The Supreme Court and the four-member High Council of the Judiciary have a single head
                           and overlapping responsibilities; together they supervise the enforcement of all laws and
                           establish judicial and legal policies; lower courts include a special clerical court, a
                           revolutionary court, and a special administrative court

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