Mixed reception to cabinet lineup

Financial Tribune- Lawmakers have expressed mixed feelings regarding the Cabinet picks proposed by the reelected President Hassan Rouhani.

Reformist-minded legislators resented the low number of ministers representing their camp as well as the exclusion of women in the all-male ministerial makeup, while others have labeled it as “inclusive”.

Rouhani presented the list of his ministerial nominees to the Majlis on Tuesday for a vote of confidence. The list includes candidates to head 17 out of 18 ministerial positions, nine of which are currently ministers and eight are newcomers. The nominee for Science Ministry is yet to be introduced.

In a recent talk with ICANA, lawmaker Fatemeh Hosseini, a reformist, said the Cabinet lineup does not meet the expectations of people who voted for Rouhani.

Reformists have expressed dissatisfaction over the choice of ministers, arguing that they threw their weight behind Rouhani in the last presidential election after he promised to push for more reforms and open up to the West, promises, they believe, help him garner 24 million votes.

The support of reformists was instrumental in Rouhani’s reelection as the camp is currently enjoying high popularity, with reformists sweeping all the seats in the last Tehran City Council elections, held concurrently with the presidential election in May, coming on the back of dethroning the parliamentary conservatives in 2015.

“Women’s demands, minorities and the aspirations [of people who voted for Rouhani] have gone unheeded in the Cabinet,” she said, predicting that “changes are expected in the lineup.”

Senior reformist lawmaker, Mohammad Reza Aref, the head of the Hope faction in Majlis, tried to lighten the situation by suggesting that the government alone is not responsible for failing to field any woman minister.

“This is not all the administration’s fault,” he said. “However, there is no excuse for not introducing a female minister.”

Rouhani, who was reelected in May by securing 57% of the vote, has always been criticized for not including any female minister in his Cabinet. The pragmatist president was widely expected to include at least one woman ministerial nominee for his second term in office.

Aref appears to be referring to the pressure from conservative circles that are traditionally opposed to women holding ministerial posts.

However, there is no law concerning excluding women from the Cabinet, as 17 women were elected in the last parliamentary elections and several women are representing their city and villages in local councils.

Broad Representation

Lawmaker Alireza Rahimi said the new Cabinet is seemingly an inclusive one, representing all political factions.

While it is true that the president has a strong 24-million popular base, the society on the whole and national solidarity should not be ignored in proposing ministers, he said, adding that the president’s picks “indicate an inclusive Cabinet”.

Lawmaker Ali Asghar Yousefnejad said the nominated ministers have been selected from across the political spectrum, noting that in some ministries, the president has to choose people who cannot be labeled as belonging to a particular political faction as these ministries should remain above factionalism, like the Ministry of Defense.

“From this point of view, I think, the president’s choices are tenable,” he said.