MPs Have Mixed Views on Forming Shadow Government

MPs Have Mixed Views on Forming Shadow GovernmentMPs Have Mixed Views on Forming Shadow Government

The idea of creating a "shadow government" has been floating in Iranian political circles since the May presidential election.

However, for the first time, lawmakers have weighed in on the matter with some hailing the idea as a "sign of political maturity" and others dismissing it as a "measure leading to chaos".

Some principlists, or conservatives, proposed the idea of creating a shadow government after the May 19 presidential election, where the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani beat the conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raeisi.

The principlists' move has been mostly rejected by their rival camp, namely moderates and reformists.

Rouhani secured a commanding lead of 57% (24 million votes) in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 eligible voters to the polls. Raeisi, his nearest rival in the four-man race, garnered 38% (16 million) of the vote.

In a statement on May 20, Saeed Jalili, a senior conservative politician who unsuccessfully ran in the 2013 presidential election, unveiled the idea in a statement to the media, calling for "assisting the sitting government".

"From a national viewpoint and apart from the [presidential] election rivalry, loyalists of the Islamic Revolution feel duty-bound to form a 'shadow government' within the bounds of the law and ethics to assist the people's elected [candidate] and his government so that it can make up for its shortcomings and inefficiencies, tackle corruption, create jobs and strengthen its authority in foreign relations," read the statement carried by ILNA.

Jalili, who acted as Raeisi's foreign policy advisor during the campaign, explained his proposal in more details on May 30. He said a shadow government is a channel for the people to make demands from the sitting government to achieve a suitable situation and is not aimed at standing against the people.

Principlists claimed after the election that their 16-million-strong popular base simply cannot go unnoticed. They have since tried to exert their influence in the parliament, where they are a major force, on Rouhani to include conservatives in his next Cabinet.

Rouhani is scheduled to take the oath of office on August 5 and has declared he would form an "inclusive Cabinet" after consultations with both conservative and reformist representatives separately.

  A Disturbance

In a recent interview with ICANA, lawmaker Soheila Jelodarzadeh, a reformist, commented that "certainly an idea that is not in accordance with the law is not in the country's interest."

The notion of shadow governments usually applies to political systems that have two main parties and are run by a parliamentary political system. Although the political parties in Iran mainly operate within the framework of principlist and reformist camps, with moderates leaning toward the latter, the Islamic Republic is not a bipartisan parliamentary political system.

"If a shadow government is formed, it would be a disturbance to the [sitting] government," Jelodarzadeh said, warning that "this would lead to chaos".

In a separate talk with ICANA, lawmaker Ezzatollah Yousefian Molla, a moderate, called into question the notion that a shadow government could create a platform for constructive criticism, saying that "people are already free to speak their minds through media and the Internet".

"There is no need for an extra shadow government to do so. Such moves would lead to deviation and violence," he warned.

  Auspicious Notion

Lawmaker Mohammad Javad Abtahi, a principlist, described the notion as one that demonstrates "political and intellectual maturity".

"A shadow government would help create another body of intellectuals and elites. They can offer fair and academic criticism to help the sitting government," he told the news agency.

Acknowledging the fact that currently political parties face a couple of problems to operate in the country, he said, "Although parties are the bedrock of a shadow government and we know [parties] have problems, the idea is an auspicious one that should be supported."

Lawmaker Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, also a principlist, not only welcomed the idea but went so far as to say that "budget and offices must also be earmarked for a shadow government".

"The incumbent government must provide the shadow government with adequate information so that the latter can criticize it in a constructive way," he said.

"No government is exempt from criticism, especially in democratic countries. Movements and parties opposing the government must voice their criticism of the government, although such remarks should be helpful and wise," he concluded.



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