A glance at Iran Parl. debates on Rouhani cabinet picks

August 17, The Iran Project – During the past three days, Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) has held  open-floor debates for vetting of President Hassan Rouhani’s proposed ministers, who need the legislature’s vote of confidence to serve in the new cabinet. 

Half of the proposed cabinet has remained unchanged compared to the first term. Nine out of the 17 proposed ministers were at the helm in the first term. Only the position of minister of Sciences, Research, and Technology is still falling vacant.

1st day: Rouhani’s speech and debates over his picks for 3 ministries

First intensive session at the Iranian Parliament kicked off on Tuesday (Aug 15). President Rouhani was present to defend his picks. He began with an outline of his plans for the next cabinet. Five lawmakers later spoke in support of Rouhani’s agenda and five others against it.

Then, the lawmakers started debating for confidence votes to three of President Rouhani’s picks for ministries of Education, ICT, and Intelligence. One supporter and one opponent of each nominee, the nominee himself, and if necessary, the president gave a speech.

Seyyed Mohammad Bathaei, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, who is the youngest nominee for Rouhani’s second-term cabinet and Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi are Rouhani’s picks for Ministry of Education, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Ministry of Intelligence, respectively.

2nd day: Vetting 5 other nominees including Javad Zarif

In the second session for debating vote of confidence on Wednesday (Aug 16), Iranian lawmakers beganother round of discussions on the qualification of Rouhani’s five other nominees for ministerial posts.

The debates focused on Mahmoud Alavi, Masoud Karbasian, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi and Ali Rabiei, the president’s picks to head Intelligence, Economy, Foreign, Health and Labor Ministries, respectively.

Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Rouhani’s pick for ministry of foreign affairs, stood in front of lawmakers and talked about his programs for the next 4 years in office.

Supporting lawmakers focused on his achievements in the field of economic diplomacy, visits of foreign economic delegations to Iran, regional developments and nuclear negotiations.

Meantime, opposing MPs also maneuvered over banking obstacles, weakening ties with the Latin American countries and Persian Gulf states and inability to take measures against international threats.

3rd day: Reviewing qualification of 4 other cabinet picks

Iranian MPs debated on Thu. (Aug 17) the qualification for vote of confidence for President Rouhani’s four other picks for his second-term cabinet.

President Rouhani picked his previous Minister of Agriculture, Ali Hojjati, for his second-term cabinet. His opponents and supporters discussed Hojjati’s handling of crises facing agriculture, natural resources, and rural areas.

Rouhani’s new pick for Ministry of Justice, Alireza Avaei, had no lawmaker speaking against him, and only four MPs spoke in his defense

Also, Rouhani’s new appointee to Ministry of Defense, Amir Hatami, had no speaker against him.

The last pick for Thursday session was Rouhani’s appointee to Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi, who had also served at the same position during the President’s first-term cabinet. Akhoundi was generally praised for his efforts on signing deals with ATR, Boeing and Airbus.

Parliament will continue with the remaining cabinet picks on Saturday.

4th day: Debating vote of confidence of three other nominees

During the 4th day of Parliament’s open-floor debates, the opponents and advocates expressed their views and comments about three other nominees for Roads and Urban Development and, Culture and Islamic Guidance and Industry, Mine and Trade Ministries Abbas Akhoundi, Reza Salehi Amiri and Mohammad Shariatmadari, respectively.

The three picks also described their plans and programs regarding their likely posts in President Rouhani’s cabinet.

Final day: Parl. approves Rouhani’s ministers, except one

On Saturday, parliament continued with the remaining cabinet picks, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli for Interior Ministry, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh for Ministry of Petroleum, Habibollah Bitaraf for Ministry of Energy and Masoud Soltanifar for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Also, Rouhani addressed the parliament before the voting, saying that the top foreign policy priority for his new government was to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States.

Then, after 5 days of intensive debates on Pres. Rouhani’s picks for his second-term cabinet, lawmakers gave a vote of confidence to 16 out of 17 candidates for ministry positions.

Habibollah Bitaraf, the pick for the energy portfolio, did not make it to the cabinet on Sunday, with 133 votes cast in his favor, 132 votes against him and 17 abstentions.

Rouhani’s cabinet still lacks a minister for Ministry of Science and will be run by a deputy until the president introduces a candidate for the position.

The following is the list of president’s second-term cabinet ministers in order of the highest votes received:

Ministry of Defense, Amir Hatami: 261 votes

Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Seyyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi: 253 votes

Ministry of Intelligence, Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi: 252 votes

Interior Ministry, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli: 250 votes

Ministry of Justice, Seyyed Alireza Avaei: 244 votes

Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Seyyed Abbas Salehi: 242 votes

Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, Mohammad Shariatmadari: 241 votes

Ministry of Economy and Finance, Masoud Karbasian: 240 votes

Ministry of Education, Seyyed Mohammad Bathaei: 238 votes

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif: 236 votes

Ministry of Petroleum, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh: 230 votes

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Masoud Soltanifar: 225 votes

Ministry of Cooperation, Labor and Social Welfare, Ali Rabiei: 191 votes

Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi: 188 votes

Ministry of Agriculture, Ali Hojjati: 164 votes

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi: 152 votes