Reformists' majority does not look secure


Reformist and "moderate" factions secured a working majority in the Iranian parliamentary election run-off last Friday.

Supporters of President Hassan Rouhani won 42 per cent of the 290 seats, not an outright majority but enough to pass his legislative proposals.

The result was seen by many analysts as popular backing for the agreement signed by Mr Rouhani with the US and other world powers to limit Iran's programme to develop and acquire a nuclear weapon.

However, the results must now be approved by the Guardian Council, an influential body of clerics and jurists close to the hardline Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei .

Although hardliners won just under a third of seats, analysts noted that the Majles (the Iranian parliament) and the elected president control only Iran's economic policies and home affairs. The more crucial areas of justice, religion, foreign policy and the military, are all controlled by Khamenei, who is appointed for life by the Guardian Council.

Ayatollah Khamenei still controls justice and foreign policy

Farshad Ghorbanpour, a political analyst with ties to the government, told The Times that the changes in parliament were "not enough to decisively alter the balance of power in Iran.

"Expect a parliament with a slightly friendlier tone, but also many political crises."

Sanam Vakil, a fellow at Chatham House, told Reuters that these battles were likely to come "issue by issue". And despite several news organisations reporting a victory for the "moderates", Ms Vakil said she doubted that parliament would back the president "should he try to push through any social and cultural reforms, or any liberalisation that challenges hardliners on social and cultural issues".

Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar tweeted: "Rouhani's allies did much better than expected. The question is: what will be the backlash from their stronger opponents?"

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