Iran's parliament Tuesday rejected for the second time President Ebrahim Raisi's nominee for education minister, amid a noisy rift within the hardliner camp.
Of 260 lawmakers present, 140 opposed Raisi's [Raeesi] candidate, Masoud Fayazi, while 115 voted in favor and five abstained.
The parliament's opposition had revealed itself last week when Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf) announced the nomination on November 9. Lawmakers drowned the speaker's voice by their shouts of disapproval.
Having nominated Fayazi November 8, Raisi attended the session to say he and colleagues had interviewed him and rated him an excellent candidate. His vehement defense of Fayazi and his presence in the parliament to back his candidate made the defeat even more damaging for Raisi.
President Ebrahim Raisi pleading his case with lawmakers. November 16, 2021
Fayazi’s critics highlighted alleged discrepancies in his career, suggesting he taught in university before getting a bachelor's degree in civil engineering that took him 15 years to complete. They suggested he had taken nine years to achieve a master's degree in Islamic law without getting “full accreditation.” They disputed his doctorate and said he had never taught in a school or been a school principal.
In his speech to parliament, Raisi disputed charges of nepotism – based on Fayazi being a relative of Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani – and argued that it was unjust to ignore a person’s achievements because of any connections they might have. The president suggested that the nomination was based on “God’s approval…proven to me as a jurist.”
Masoud Fayazi, Raisi's candidate rejected by parliament.
Rejection of Raisi's second nominee signifies that the conservative majority in parliament is not prepared to offer the president unconditional support. Iranian media already proclaims “the end of the honeymoon” with many principlists expressing disapproval of Raisi's choices for ministerial positions and lack of clear plans to deal with multiple crises facing Iran.
Allegations of nepotism are a staple of Iranian politics and were quickly made against Raisi, who took office in August. Fayazi is the brother of Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani's son-in-law. Zakani's own appointment by the new conservative-dominated Tehran city council in August highlighted a lively division in the camp.
In August, the parliament approved all Raisi’s ministerial nominations except for education minister, Hossein Baghgoli, who is reportedly a relative of his wife. Raisi is the son-in-law of the Friday prayer imam of Mashhad, Iran's second largest city.
Raisi has only one week left of three months allowed for approving ministers. If he fails to present another candidate, or the candidate is again rejected, the president will need to appoint a caretaker for three months or assume responsibility for the ministry himself. The law requires a caretaker minister to be approved by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.