Lawmakers arguing with Speaker Ghalibaf in Iran's parliament in October 2021.

Lawmakers arguing with Speaker Ghalibaf in Iran's parliament in October 2021.

Critics Slam Iran's 'Minority Parliament' For Poor Performance

1/6/2022

A leading news website in Tehran says the current Majles is a "minority parliament" that should avoid provocative legislation opposed by most Iranians.

The ultra-conservative parliament has already annoyed a major part of the population by considering a bill to limit citizens access to the Internet and opposing a long-awaited pay adjustment for the country's low-paid teachers who have been taking to the streets in recent months, the moderate-conservative website, Khabar Online said.

The website added that insisting on ratifying radical laws will impose a high cost on the current Majles which has a weak voter base. Some lawmakers were elected by around 2 percent of their constituency's eligible voters.

Hundreds of reformist candidates were barred from candidacy in the 2020 election and ultra-conservatives virtually ran unopposed.

Based on a massive body of facts and figures, Khabar Online said that 38 of the lawmakers at the Majles have won between 2 to 10 percent of the votes in their constituencies. Two members won around 2 percent of the votes in their districts, while at least 3 lawmakers in this group chair various parliamentary committees despite their less than 10 percent voter base.

The next group includes 175 lawmakers who have won between 11 to 20 percent of the votes in their constituencies in the February 2020 parliamentary election. This is the largest group of lawmakers at the Majles, and Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf who has won some 19 percent of the eligible votes in Tehran falls in this group.

The third group, which includes 77 lawmakers have won between 21 to 40 percent of the votes in their regions, while only two lawmakers managed to get 40 percent of eligible votes in their districts.

While the overall turnout of the 2020 election was announced as 42.5 percent, the actual turnout was far less due to the large number of void ballots. In some cities the number of votes won by the leading winner was less than the number of void ballots. According to Khabar Online, the reason for the low turnout, which was lowest in Tehran with just over 26 percent, was popular discontent over the bloody clampdown on the 2019 nationwide protests and barring reformist candidates from running in the election.

Last week, reformist newspaper Sharq examined the performance of the lawmakers and concluded that although the new Majles had promised to take on a predominantly supervisory role and control the presidential administration, it has done very little in this regard. According to one lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the parliament’s performance was "unacceptable." The lawmaker criticized the ultraconservative parliament for "not being able to solve any of the country's economic problems, including its uncontrolled inflation."

Sharq quoted another lawmaker as having said that the Majles tables a large number of meaningless bills, "but some 95 percent of them are never being discussed, let alone being ratified." In August, the official news agency IRNA said that "over 300 bills were tabled by the lawmakers during the preceding 6 months often about insignificant matters."

At the same time, the Majles has failed to supervise President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration although more lawmakers have lately become vocal in their criticisms of the government.

According to Sharq, even Speaker Ghalibaf has called for less legislation, and demanded attaching more significance to the parliament's supervisory role. Nonetheless, last week, when lawmakers wanted to perform their supervisory role by impeaching the economy minister, it was Ghalibaf who stopped the motion.

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