Khamenei – whose title is meant to confer the authority of God's interim representative on earth – suggested that the post of Iran's directly elected president might be abolished, to be replaced by a premier chosen by parliament.
"The current political system of the country is presidential, and the president is elected directly by the people. This is a good and effective system," Khamenei reassured another large crowd on Sunday. "But if one day, possibly in the distant future, it is felt that a parliamentary system is more suited for electing those responsible for the executive branch, then there would be no problems in making changes in the system."
From outside Iran, that might appear to be a subtle change.
But inside Iran, resurrection of the post of prime minister – which existed for the first decade of the revolution, until 1989 – would mark a further decline of democracy.
Such a decision would come in the context of the divisive six-year presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and the violent aftermath of his fraudulent 2009 reelection – which has caused political mayhem, especially among conservatives.
It would also come as Mr. Ahmadinejad has mounted several challenges to Khamenei, and proven himself to be a gutsy street-fighter willing to damage the regime's reputation to preserve his own. His closest aides have been accused of sorcery and leading a "deviant current."