After Khomeini’s death, differences between factions in the political elite soon became apparent. Although neither faction constitutes a homogeneous political group, they are divided roughly into two platforms, reformists and conservatives. Generally, the former advocate a liberal interpretation and the latter a strict, literal interpretation of the Constitution and Sharia, but there is much disagreement within the factions with respect to economic, political, and social policy.
Hojatoleslam (later Ayatollah) Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is often referred to as a pragmatic conservative, part of the religious establishment but open to a broader range of views. During his two terms as President he initiated economic reforms and the normalization of relations with neighbouring countries. He also tried to reform the state-controlled economy of the war years into a more market-based system.