Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Is the Iranian Parliment going to fall apart?

Yesterday the mild-mannered, mid-level cleric initiated a legal proposal aimed at turning back the power of the conservative clerical establishment. It is an effort to prevent a massive exodus out of his reform movement and into an as yet undefined opposition stance.

"If reform reaches a dead end, what route will the people take?" said an editor at a reformist newspaper recently shut down by the conservatives. "They’re never going to return to the right. They’re going to go outside the system."

Mr Khatami’s bill is aimed specifically at reducing the power of the Guardian Council, the religious board charged with vetting all laws and political candidates. Twice elected with massive majorities, Mr Khatami argues that the council’s rulings are arbitrary and illegal. His bill gives him the power to remove judiciary and parliamentary officials for breaking the law.

"The spirit of this bill is that if Khatami realises that the constitution has been violated, he can put a stop to it," said the vice-president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi.

The bill will sail through parliament. However, it will likely be rejected by a Guardian Council that is unlikely to reduce its own power. If that happens, Mr Khatami says he will put the issue before the people in a referendum. Mr Khatami has said that if the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, cancels the referendum, he will resign.

Such a resignation will leave the conservatives in direct confrontation with the people. "Everyone wants change," said one reformist activist. "The question is, what price are people going to pay for that change?"

< email | 9/28/2002 12:58:00 AM | link

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