Is Iranian parliament warming up to Rouhani?

By Rohollah Faghihi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

On May 29, Ali Larijani was overwhelmingly re-elected parliament speaker for the third time. However, on a closer look, it appears that moderate President Hassan Rouhani is the victor.

The election only featured two candidates: moderate Principlist Larijani and Reformist Mohammad Reza Aref. Given their shared views on many matters, the Reformists tried to reach an agreement with Larijani. Yet the other side was apparently not willing to negotiate. On May 25, just four days before the vote, Aref said, “We didn’t reach a conclusion on having interaction with the other side about the speakership.”

When voting was finally held, it became apparent that Aref had obtained the votes of 103 of parliament’s 290 members — 70 votes less than cast in favor of Larijani. This means that aside from losing the support of independent parliamentarians, even a number of Reformist lawmakers refrained from voting for Aref.

Aref knew this would happen and had warned about it. “I’m surprised, and I should state that all List of Hope [members of parliament] must remain loyal to the Reformists,” Aref said. Yet Aref’s warning — as the head of the List of Hope, which was the primary Reformist ticket in the parliamentary elections — was not heeded.

In addition, some prominent figures within the Reformist camp believed that Larijani would be a better choice given the present situation. Gholamhossein Karbaschi, the secretary-general of the Executives of Construction party, said, “It is possible that the parliament may not be able to go on with its plans due to the harsh manners of the hard-liners. History shows that Mr. Larijani can do better in managing the hard-liners.”

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