Majlis Speakership in the Spotlight

Majlis Speakership in the Spotlight Majlis Speakership in the Spotlight

Debates on who will be the speaker of the incoming parliament have become a hot subject as the new house gets ready to meet today.

Media speculations indicate that the principlist, Ali Larijani, the previous Majlis speaker and a former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and reformist Mohammad Reza Aref, the top vote-getter in the parliamentary election in Tehran and a former vice president, are the two frontrunners.

A reelected principlist lawmaker, Mohammad Ebrahim Rezaei, said Friday that it seems safe to say Larijani will win. He opined that a large part of the new chamber prefers the former speaker.

"According to my information, not only most of principlists and independents, but even some of Aref's allies [during election campaigns] have had a change of heart and show interest in Larijani," he told Tasnim News Agency. Meantime, new reformist lawmaker Mustafa Kavakebian said on Thursday Aref should win the top job because the people clearly showed in the legislative elections that they want a change in the house.  

"I think the change should also occur in the Majlis presiding board and a reformist should be the speaker," IRNA quoted him as saying. "I believe that [the need for] the rotation of elites justifies a change [in the Majlis leadership].

Voting structure for the 290-member assembly, two rounds of which were held in February and April, showed that the 'List of Hope', a coalition of reformists and pro-government elements, secured a simple majority and deprived the principlist camp of its absolute majority  in the past three parliaments.

A major factor behind the principlist failure was the largest electoral district, Tehran, where the coalition clinched a remarkable win and swept all 30 seats.

  Factions to Weigh In

In recent weeks, the two groups of winners have been lobbying to attract more lawmakers to their in-the-making parliamentary factions and secure more votes for their choice of speakership and the presiding board.

Fars News Agency reported on Friday that the winners included in the two lists, plus some independents, will attend separate gatherings on Saturday afternoon, after the opening session in the morning.  

In the meetings, which would determine the final composition of the two factions, lawmakers will formally elect their candidate for speaker and discuss choices for the 12-member presiding board.

There have been calls, mainly by pro-reform politicians, for some form compromise between Aref and Larijani to share the seat during the four-year term, citing the need to promote unity and avoid possible polarization emanating from past rivalry between the two influential players.

The rumor mills convey a plan in which Larijani will preside as speaker for the first two years of the parliament and Aref in the next two years.

However, reports say the two politicians insist they have never contacted each other on any such deal.   

Come what may, independent candidates will have a crucial role in deciding the final winner in the race for the top legislative post because none of the two main factions could win outright majority in the polls.

The election for the speakership is held annually and the winner can contest every year.