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Conservative Politician Wants To Eliminate The Presidency In Iran

Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, December 28, 2015. File photo

A conservative politician in Iran, who was minister of culture in the first administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has proposed to eliminate the presidency in the Islamic Republic.

Speaking in a television program on March 17, Mohammad Saffar Harandi who is now a member of Iran’s Expediency Council proposed to replace the president with a prime minister.

Harandi is also affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has also made the same proposal in the past, but he was rebuffed by strong criticism and the opposition of then influential politician Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Critiques say eliminating the presidency and replacing it with a prime minister elected by parliament will reduce the impact of people’s votes. Presidents in Iran are directly elected by popular vote.

Khamenei has always had problems with popularly elected presidents, since they can claim some democratic legitimacy, while the Supreme Leader is appointed by a few dozen clerics and insiders.

Khamenei and his conservative followers were in constant friction with reformist president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) and current president Hassan Rouhani. Even Ahmadinejad began having friction with Khamenei in his second term in office.

Parliament also suffers from weak legitimacy as candidates are strictly vetted before elections and most critiques and independents prevented from running.