Iranian President Claiming Victory Over Cabinet Choices

September 8, 2009

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is claiming victory after the Iranian Parliament backed his cabinet choices. There have been two political debates going on in Iran since June. The first pits reformers against conservatives. Reformers believe that the election in June was stolen from them. The second stream of political conflict has been within the conservative branch of government itself. Ahmadinejad’s political party is divided, because many within the Iranian conservative movement believe that President Ahmadinejad has loaded his government with political cronies. Many have complained that Ahmadinejad is filling his cabinet with people who are personally loyal to him, and not those that are the best qualified and competent. Therefore, the debate over Ahmadinejad’s cabinet choices was not to have been between the reformers and conservatives, but between the conservatives themselves.

There had been an expectation that the president’s cabinet choices would be met with resistance, as the Iranian parliament is controlled by conservatives.  However, that debate has apparently evaporated in the current political climate. 

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has managed to rally the conservative politicians around Ahmadinejad. Some analysts are reporting that nearly half of Ahmadinejad’s picks would have been rejected had the Supreme Leader not gotten involved. 

With the cabinet confirmations comes the first female minister since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi has become the minister of Health. She is described as being very conservative. In the past, she has proposed segregated healthcare in Iran, with only women treating women and only men treating men. Her appointment could radically effect how healthcare is performed in Iran. 

Two other women proposed by Ahmadinejad for cabinet positions were rejected by parliament during the vetting process along with one male. 18 of the president’s 21 picks were approved.

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