Challenging the Balance of Power: Ahmadinejad vs. Parliament
Interview with Hosein Ghazian
- How has parliament’s political role—and authority--been affected by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency?
- How does parliament’s current role compare to that during the reformist period of President Mohammad Khatami?
- The fifth parliament (1997-2000): Right-leaning deputies had the majority and began challenging the reformists, although this parliament was operating in a socio-political context in which reformists were ascending. So the fortunes of the conservative faction and followers of the supreme leader began to diminish.
- The sixth parliament (1997-2000): Reformists were dominant. This parliament is considered Iran’s most progressive parliament to date and tended to support the Khatami administration. Although this parliament and Khatami were able to support each other politically, they were not able to coordinate or push through political reform in the face of resistance from the regime’s unelected institutions [such as the Guardian Council that vets legislation].
- The seventh parliament (2004-2008): The supreme leader had important influence on political candidates through] electoral engineering. Prominent reformists were vetted heavily by the Guardian Council plus voter turnout, particularly in large cities, was very low. This parliament was subservient to the supreme leader politically--even at the expense of losing some independence. Parliament supported Ahmadinejad laragely because of the supreme leader’s strong support for the president. Dissident parliamentarians were a minority; their voices were overshadowed by hardliners who controlled the majority of seats.
- What issues have caused tensions between the current administration and parliament?
- concealing or not releasing various economic data, such as information on foreign currency reserves and the amount of deposits in the National Development Fund;
- refusing to answer questions by the Audit Court, affiliated with the Parliament, on the implementation of annual budget plans; and
- refraining from submitting annual reports on the progress of Majles-approved five-year development plan. Even official data showed that Iran was well behind achieving its economic goals.
- What role will the Guardian Council play in the 2012 election? Do you expect it to vary from the past?
- major groups, such as the Islamic Participation Front and the Combatant Clerics Association
- prominent politicians, such as like Hashemi Rafsanjani
- and some of Ahmadinejad’s supporters.
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
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