Iran Table of Contents
Prior to the Revolution of 1979, the political elite of the towns consisted of the shah and his family and court in Tehran and the representatives of the monarchy in the provincial towns. These representatives included provincial governors and city mayors, all of whom were appointed by Tehran; high-level government officials; high- ranking military officers; the wealthiest industrialists and financiers; the most prominent merchants; and the best known professionals in law, medicine, and education. The highest ranks of the Shia clergy--the clerics who had obtained the status of ayatollah--were no longer considered part of the national elite by the mid-1970s, although this social group had been very important in the elite from the seventeenth to the mid- twentieth century.
The Revolution of 1979 swept aside this old elite. Although the old political elite was not physically removed, albeit many of its members voluntarily or involuntarily went into exile, it was stripped of its political power. The new elite consisted first and foremost of the higher ranks of the Shia clergy. The most important administrative, military, and security positions were filled by lay politicians who supported the rule of the clergy. The majority of the lay political elite had their origins in the prerevolutionary middle class, especially the bazaar families (see Political Dynamics , ch. 4).
Data as of December 1987