The Constitutional Revolution of Iran in 1906 resulted in a constitution that established a parliament and a constitutional monarchy. Interestingly, it was based on the Belgian constitution.

Was there any reason that Belgium was particularly chosen as a model? There was a lot of constitutional monarchies in the West at that time. Belgium wasn't among the most prestigious or famous of them, and I couldn't think of any special similarities between Iran and Belgium.

2 Answers 2


Comparing just to the Constitution of the Netherlands, that of Belgium was for a Unitary State with no substantial body of Common Law and tradition, while that of The Netherlands was for a Federal State, with a substantial body of Common Law and Tradition. Further part of the motive for the separation of Belgium from Netherlands in 1831 had been a feeling that insufficient Freedom of Religion was provided for in the Dutch Constitution.

Further, the 1849 decision by Denmark to base its constitution on those of Belgium and Norway reinforced the notion that it was a model constitution well suited for adaption elsewhere.

Of course, there is no written Constitution for either England proper or the United Kingdom, so using it as a basis for a written constitution is substantially more work.

The United States has a written Constitution, but is both a Federal State and a Republic rather than a constitutional monarchy.

The Empire of Germany was again a Federal State rather than a Unitary State; but was not yet a fully developed Constitutional Monarchy; the Kaiser still retained considerable powers that were presumably deemed undesirable in the 1906 Iranian Constitution.

In summary, all constitutions are different, meeting varying goals and objectives of the constitutional congress. It's less about which one is best, in an absolute sense, and more about which one is best for us.

So, inferring from the choice made, the Constitutional Revolutionaries of 1906 desired a Monarchical Unitary State, with minimal reliance on Common Law and Tradition, minimal jurisdiction of a Constitutional Court, strictly limited Royal powers and authorities, and substantive Freedom of Religion for the Sunni, Kurdish, and Zoroastrian minorities.

  • 1
    @user69715: No, I have it correct in the first paragraph (error in last corrected). Belgium was a Unitary State until very recently, while The Netherlands has always been a Federation of Provinces. Nov 22, 2015 at 16:29

The Belgian constitution was heavily influenced by the French "Code Napoleon" which was in itself a great influence to many countries throughout the world seeking a legal framework for personal freedoms after emerging from under regional Imperial powers. Code Napoleon was very influential in South American and the Middle East.

  • But how does Iran, the question, come into it?
    – Semaphore
    Nov 23, 2015 at 14:48
  • 1
    Also, wasn't Code Napoleon a civil code, not a constitution?
    – user69715
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.