April 7, 2008


Ahmadinejad Faces Stormy New Parliament (Kimia Sanati, Apr 7, 2008, IPS)

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can expect considerable opposition in the newly elected parliament -- set to be installed on May 27 -- that has a considerable number of representatives from rival hardliners, conservatives and a stronger reformist minority.

Hardliners and conservatives critical of Ahmadinejad’s economic and foreign policies are likely to unite with the reformists to exercise more control on the government, analysts in Tehran say. [...]

For the speakership of the next parliament, the Comprehensive Coalition of Principlists is expected to support Ali Larijani against incumbent speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel who is favoured by the pro-Ahmadinejad coalition, a spokesman for the coalition told reporters.

Larijani had originally been on the joint list of Principlists’ candidates from Tehran but changed his constituency to Qom, Iran’s religious capital, where he won a landslide victory against his pro-government rival.

"Reformists will most likely support Larijani’s speakership. This will make him a mighty rival for Haddad Adel who is criticised for having made the current parliament a tool in the hands of the government, helping grant it whatever it wishes with least resistance even when everybody knows he is going wrong," a reformist politician, who did not want to be quoted by name, told IPS.

"They are also likely to help the hardliner and conservative rivals of the government group to prevent Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the vice-speaker, from holding the same position again. Bahonar and Haddad Adel jointly blocked every effort in the current parliament to control the government," he said.

In the parliamentary polls reformists managed to nearly double their votes, compared to the elections for the seventh parliament four years ago, in spite of losing the majority of their high-profile and even second and third class candidates to pre-election vetting by the country’s election watchdog, the Council of Guardians.

Had the Reformers invested themselves more heavily in the elections they'd be in even better shape.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2008 7:13 AM

"Rival hardliners and conservatives...."

Who won most of the votes in the election, prety much equaling the previous round.

"A stronger reformist minority...."

Whose 'best' candidates were stricken from the ballot, in three separate slices.

Sure, a lot of them don't like Madmood - he's a cheeky twerp, after all - but in each and every election, Khameini gets exactly the "reform" he wants. And the ordering of the rival gangs shifts only a little, while nothing changes for the average Persian.

If we (you) bewail the slanted and corrupt elections in Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Russia, Ukraine, and Kenya, then why not Iran, where the micro-management is even more pronounced?

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 7, 2008 7:42 AM

The combination of conservative and Reform votes pretty much spells the end for Mahmoud.

So many Reform candidates were added back that if the turnout had been maximized instead of minimized they'd be the power in the parliament.

Posted by: oj at April 7, 2008 12:49 PM

After over 300 were added back on the list, another 400 or so were removed (as noted in a post here the day or so before the elections).

It's a shell game. Always a shell game, with no pebble in play.

Khameini is not going to allow a little thing like an election disrupt the Islamic Revolution. But only a fair election can "reform" Iran and help the Persian people.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 7, 2008 2:37 PM

Khamenei ended the Revolution. He only cares about the Republic, which is why he backs reform, especially economic.

Posted by: oj at April 7, 2008 4:51 PM

It would be in his interest to swerve Iran towards the Chinese model, although no form of thuggish oligarchy (no matter how Islamic) will survive a true economic renaissance.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 7, 2008 6:59 PM

The Anglo model, but with the Guardian as the monarch, would perfect republicanism.

Posted by: oj at April 7, 2008 7:29 PM

If the monarch micro-manages like Jimmy Carter (which is an understatement of Khameini's current role), it will collapse. Once Ali is dead, the pecking to replace him will be most intense.

Absent some successor pulling a Claudius and actually leading the nation somewhere better, we will get an even more constricted moribund cleric trying to preserve a gasping, thrashing version of Islam. If Iran isn't careful, in 20-25 years Iraq will have it beaten hands down in every important national characteristic (just as India has roared past Pakistan in every way possible).

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 7, 2008 9:49 PM

Monarchs don't manage, they preserve.

Posted by: oj at April 7, 2008 10:26 PM

There is now no artifice or order in Iran worth preserving. The gangster culture and its twisted patina (remember the nuclear fan dancing?) are for the ash heap. Khameini is a husk, and so is the revolution.

When Rafsanjani, Khatami, and/or Larijani is the last best hope, then the word itself is meaningless. Their day is past, but because of the current sclerosis and suspicion, no real reformers can step in and lead.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 8, 2008 6:39 AM

Yes, Khamenei crushed the revolution, thankfully. His job now is to save the Republic by putting it on better footing. This chiefly consists of the economic reforms that Rafsanjani backs but Mahmoud has slowed. A normal growing economy will allow the Guardian to draw back further.

Posted by: oj at April 8, 2008 7:32 AM