Pro-Reform Cabinet Could Help Rouhani Meet Demands

Pro-Reform Cabinet Could Help Rouhani Meet DemandsPro-Reform Cabinet Could Help Rouhani Meet Demands

A senior reformist politician urged reelected President Hassan Rouhani to earmark more Cabinet positions for reformists, saying it would help him fulfill "a bigger portion of popular demands" during his second four-year tenure.

Elaheh Koulaei, a member of the Reformist Policymaking Council, made the call in an interview with ISNA published on Sunday.

Rouhani, who gained a 24-million-vote mandate in the May vote, took the oath of office for a second time in a high-profile ceremony on Saturday.

The reformist camp was central to Rouhani's landslide victory over his main principlist challenger Ebrahim Raeisi, by joining hands with moderates to support his cause in the campaign season.

They also threw their weight behind Rouhani in the previous vote in 2013, when their candidate Mohammad Reza Aref dropped out to boost the campaign of the 68-year-old centrist cleric.

Koulaei said the share of reformists in Rouhani's first Cabinet was not proportionate to the extent of support they offered and it needs to be increased in his second Cabinet, whose lineup must be proposed to the Majlis within two week of the oath-taking ceremony.

"Reformists have had an effective presence and they should get a proper response," she said.

Elaborating on the need for changing the Cabinet formation, Koulaei said the chief executive needs colleagues in tune with goals he announced during the election time to be able to realize them and reformists who supported these goals are suitable options for Rouhani's Cabinet.

The politician said a handful of ministers in the previous government, including those in charge of science and education ministries, failed to properly manage resources in a way that best meets the needs and benefits people the most, a fact that bolsters the case for broad changes in the Cabinet.

  Reformists' Concerns

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

His first Cabinet was the oldest in the history of the Islamic Republic, with an average age of 57 in 2013.

But his "inclusive" promise, which was widely interpreted to mean that reformists will not dominate the Cabinet, prompted some reformist figures to voice their protest.

Reformists are also dismayed to learn that women would again be absent from ministerial posts.

The bloc was generally supportive of Rouhani during his first term, although members often voiced veiled criticism of the performance of Rouhani's first Cabinet.

Some observers have suggested the reformists' higher sensitivity over the lineup of Rouhani's second Cabinet is out of concerns about their political future, as they are seen to be in the same boat with Rouhani and his failure to make good on electoral promises will spell trouble for reformist candidates vying for votes in future elections.

Koulaei said her call for changes in the Cabinet does not mean reformists are seeking a share in the Cabinet, but that they want to continue the cooperation that helped Rouhani's reelection bid.

"How is it possible to sideline one of the groups in an alliance when it succeeds in the poll and it is time to carry out the plans that attracted votes?" she asked.

In recent weeks, Rouhani has been busy consulting parliamentary factions to build backstage consensus on his choices for 18 ministerial nominees who need to be approved by parliament before assuming office.

His job to form the Cabinet is easier this time, as the current Majlis is considered more amiable toward the government than the previous principlist-dominated Majlis.


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