Iran’s Majlis tightens the screws on its members

Parliament of Islamic Republic of IranSource: Mehr NewsDate: 28 September 2011

According to Mehr News, Article Four of the Supervision of Representatives Plan (Tahr-e Nezarat-e Namayandegan) was approved by Iran’s legislature, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majlis.

Article Four of the Plan, which was ratified today by a simple majority of 129 yay votes, calls for disciplinary measures against Majlis representatives who commit punishable offenses under Article Two of the Plan. Disciplinary measures range in severity from oral and written warnings, to temporary pay reductions to expulsion from the Majlis.

The Plan contains nine articles in total, the most important of which include Articles One, Two, Four and Six. Article One deals with the selection of the Supervision of Representatives Committee, which must consist of seven members including a deputy speaker of the Majlis, the heads of the Majlis Legal & Judicial and Article 90 (Public Complaints) committees, and four representatives selected by the Majlis. Article Two elaborates the list of punishable offenses which include moral and financial misconduct, uncivil behaviour in the Majlis, actions against national security and incompetence (such as chronic absence, tardiness and disorganisation by a representative). Article Six empowers the Supervision of Representatives Committee to strip Majlis representatives of their immunity, allowing for the Judiciary to summon and even prosecute them.

 The Plan was drawn up by Majlis representative Ahmad Tavakoli and 150 other representatives after a meeting between a Majlis delegation and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In the meeting Khamenei called on the Majlis to take a more active role in supervising its own members and activities.

Editor’s note: While the Majlis has presented the euphemistically named Supervision of Representatives Plan as a measure to clean up the legislature, its true purpose appears to be to tighten the screws on its members who may fall out of line.

At present the regime’s senior leadership mainly influences the Majlis through the Guardian Council which vets candidates before they can participate in elections. However, once a candidate is vetted and wins an election, there are limited legal mechanisms which can be easily applied to influence them. The Supervision of Representatives Committee appears to
de facto give the majority bloc in the Majlis the ability to purge its political opponents at will. Given the lack of a robust democratic system as well as checks and balances in Iran, use of the Committee in this manner is highly probable.

While the full ratification of the Plan could certainly influence the current session of the Majlis, its real influence may be in the Majlis which is formed after the 2012 legislative election. For example, if Neo-Principalist/3rd of Tir current-linked Persevering Front of the Islamic Revolution wins a majority in the next Majlis, it could use the Committee to intimidate its opponents and ensure a legislature which is more in line with the executive as well as the regime’s senior leadership.