Changing Tack (1976–1977)
This chapter follows the process of political liberalization instigated by the Shah in 1976–1977 and examines its root causes. Some time in the mid-1970s, the Shah decided that he should gradually transform the nature of governance in Iran from royal autocracy to constitutional monarchy. The literature has long maintained that the policy shift was a reaction to the advent of Jimmy Carter as US president in November 1976. His campaign emphasis on human rights, morality and militarism were perceived by political forces in Iran as the “Carter ambiguity” toward the Shah. That notion soon created a potent political dynamic that prefaced the Revolution. The author argues that, although the Carter factor cannot be dismissed totally, the Shah’s decision to change tack was rooted in dynastic concerns related to the aggravation of his medical condition in that period.