MPs Stress Need to Address Roots of Popular Discontent

MPs Stress Need to Address Roots of Popular Discontent
MPs Stress Need to Address Roots of Popular Discontent

Lawmakers appealed to the government to avoid short-term solutions for the recent wave of public discontent and instead try to address root causes of the problems.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Qasem Mirzaei said "as long as main issues, namely tackling corruption and meeting basic demands of people, are not addressed, the public disgruntlement will continue."

Peaceful protests against price hikes and the overall economic conditions started on Dec. 28 but turned political days later.

Suspicious elements, armed at times, turned the gatherings into a violent melee, running amok in a few towns.

Over a dozen people were killed in the turmoil, including police forces. According to officials, some of the fatalities came even as security forces did not fire a single bullet. They said some rioters used shotguns and pistols to attack police and fire at the crowd of protestors.

After six days, the riots tapered off when people from all walks of life took to the streets denouncing violence and supporting the system.

  Poor Party Structure

Mirzaei criticized the current state of political parties and said they should act as a link in the chain of conveying public demands to elected lawmakers.

"Parties could serve as a good platform to convey public demands to lawmakers who can then relay them to the government," he said.

To enhance accountability, Iranian parliamentarians have been calling for a bigger role by political parties, saying candidates assuming power from the two main political camps, namely conservatives and reformists, do not usually stay on message, or at times are totally off message.

Many political parties are officially registered in Iran. However, they are not performing on a popular basis through membership but rather through a system of seniority. In addition, their activities see lots of ups and downs, eventually alienating many people.

Mirzaei said parties must be granted the permission to hold gatherings and protests, saying in that case they will also be accountable for any damage to public properties and would refrain from any misconduct since they know they could give up their popular base of support to other parties.

Echoing that view, lawmaker Bahram Parsaei blamed the lack of well-structured parties for the change in color of the recent discontent.

"Lack of strong civil institutions and political parties allowed some 'outsiders' to divert public demands [from economic to political] and turn them into riots," he said.

"The main problem is weak parties. Public demands must be pursued by strong parties, which are allowed to arrange [regulated] rallies so that people's voices and protests could be heard," he concluded.

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