June 4, 2016

FRUIT OF THE TRADE DEAL:

Is Iranian parliament warming up to Rouhani? (Rohollah Faghihi, June 3, 2016, Al Monitor)

[T]he hard-liners' applause and jubilation may not be real, as it is crystal clear that Larijani is the last person they ever wanted to see as speaker. In fact, the number of hard-liners in parliament is now so low that they had no option but to back Larijani. If they had at least 120 members of parliament among their ranks, they would have certainly rather chosen someone such as hard-line parliamentarian Mehdi Zolnour. 

In fact, Larijani is the least favored candidate among hard-liners. Proof of this lies in their interruptions of one of his speeches and throwing shoes at him at a meeting only two years ago. In addition, Larijani has consistently been a target of hard-liners in past years over his support for Rouhani and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. For instance, Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of Kayhan newspaper, publicly slammed Larijani for backing the nuclear deal. Moreover, in 2012, Morteza Agha-Tehrani, the secretary-general of the influential hard-line Endurance Front, said, "We are completely against choosing Larijani as parliament speaker."

Less than a week before the speakership vote, on May 23, prominent hard-liner and former member of parliament Rouhollah Hosseinian revealed the hard-liners' intentions for backing Larijani, "If we had a figure who had the grounds for gaining the votes for the speakership, we would have chosen him. Thus, currently, we don't have anyone, and we have to back Larijani for the first year," Hosseinian said.

In the speakership vote, Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian and moderate Ali Motahari -- who won 158 and 133 votes, respectively -- were elected as Larijani's deputies.

In the voting, Pezeshkian and Motahari, whose names were both on the List of Hope, had two main rivals: hard-liners Hamid-Reza Haji Babaei and Mohammad Dehghan.

It should be noted that Motahari's victory was a big blow to the hard-liners, who consistently criticize him harshly over his repeated public speeches in favor of the release of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the two 2009 presidential candidates who have been under house arrest since 2010. In this vein, the two hard-line newspapers Kayhan and Vatan-e-Emrooz kept silent after Motahari's election as deputy speaker, as if no election had taken place at all.

Most of all, the May 29 election showed several important development related to parliament. After months of speculation about who has the majority, it is now clear that pro-Rouhani parliament members -- consisting of both Reformists and moderates -- are the majority and that the hard-liners are the minority. Additionally, the chief winner of the speakership vote appears to be Rouhani, while the losers -- despite much analysis to the contrary -- are the hard-liners, not Aref.



Posted by at June 4, 2016 8:48 AM

  

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