Iran’s new parliament opens, dominated by arch-conservatives, hardliners

President Hassan Rouhani (L) arrives for the inauguration of the new parliament, Tehran, 27 May.

A new legislative period started in Iran on Wednesday, with a three-party coalition of conservatives, arch-conservatives and hardliners to dominate this session of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, news wires reported. Reformers and moderate conservatives close to President Hassan Rowhani are minority after their bad results in February's election.

However, cracks have reportedly appeared in the alliance since its election triumph, particularly relating to the choice of a parliamentary speaker. Former Iranian police chief and Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf would be the obvious choice, but is said to be too moderate for the hardliners. They would prefer to appoint Mostafa Mir-Salim, an arch-conservative known for his criticism of Rowhani's pro-Western stance and Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Rumours abound that the new parliament's hardline and arch-conservative elements, some of whom remain close to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, plan to remove Rowhani before his term ends in May 2021. Many of them feel the nuclear deal has only brought fresh sanctions and pushed the country further into economic crisis.

Only 43% of Iran's electorate voted in the February poll, the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic's 43-year history and far lower than the 60% hoped for by the country's leadership. The low showing was partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to widespread disappointment at the track record of Rowhani's reformers.

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