Debate on Next Cabinet Lineup Heats Up

National Desk
Debate on Next Cabinet Lineup Heats UpDebate on Next Cabinet Lineup Heats Up

With only a few days left before the newly reelected President Hassan Rouhani unveils his choices for the next Cabinet, its lineup has become a subject of much debate in political circles and Iranian media outlets are abuzz with speculations about ministerial nominees.

Rouhani is to receive his endorsement decree from Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Thursday and he will be sworn in for another four years as the country’s chief executive on Saturday.

The inauguration ceremony will be held in the parliament where Rouhani is expected to propose his 18 Cabinet members for a vote of confidence on the same day.

Rouhani has been particularly reticent about his picks, but he has revealed some clues on his thinking by vowing to form a “young” and “inclusive” Cabinet.

With an average age of 57, his first Cabinet was the oldest in the history of Islamic Republic.

His “inclusive” promise was widely interpreted to mean the next Cabinet would not be the preserve of the reformist camp that threw its weight behind the 68-year-old centrist president in the May elections and helped him extend his mandate.

Rouhani has reportedly said more than 50% of the incumbent ministers will be replaced, sending the rumor mill into overdrive on who will leave the government and who will stay.

Observers are almost in consensus that veteran ministers, such as the 72-year-old Industries, Mining and Trade Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh and Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi are most likely to be dropped.

Among those predicted to have the highest chance of being trusted by the president for another term are Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and Minister of Culture Seyyed Reza Salehi Amiri.

The induction of women ministers is also anticipated. Women are already in the Rouhani’s team, serving as vice presidents and senior advisors.

  Wide Consultations With Legislature

In recent weeks, Rouhani has been busy consulting with parliamentary factions to accommodate their views and boost his chance of getting an overwhelming approval for his second team from Iranian lawmakers.

On July 20, the president met members of the reformist-moderate faction to discuss the criteria for selecting Cabinet members.

On July 22 and 23, the president held similar meetings with principlist and independent factions respectively, which were allied under the Velayat faction before they opted to part ways earlier last month.

Rouhani, a staunch supporter of broader international engagement and liberal reforms in the largely state-run economy, has made campaign pledges, including intensified efforts to improve the livelihood of ordinary Iranians and curb unemployment.

Over 23 million people, from a total of 41 million voters, cast ballots in his favor and he won the May election with 57% of votes to defeat his main rival, principlist Ebrahim Raeisi.

After Rouhani proposes his list of ministers, the lawmakers will have one week to examine their credentials.

Afterwards, the aspirants will appear before parliament to outline their plans of action in the hope of securing confirmation votes.

Rouhani faced huge difficulties in earning the approval of the previous principlist-dominated parliament to put together his first Cabinet in 2013 and was forced to propose three or even four nominees for the same post.

But the parliament has become more supportive of the government since the reformist-moderate alliance managed to break a chain of three-time principlist victories in the early 2016 elections.

In the context of Iranian politics, “moderate” refers to the staunch supporters of Rouhani’s administration.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints