With the bulk of seats decided in Iran’s parliamentary elections, it appeared on Sunday that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has gained the ironclad majority he needed not just to bring the country’s president to heel, but to eliminate the position entirely.
Ayatollah Khamenei has jousted repeatedly with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as the two previous presidents — so the supreme leader secured this majority at Mr. Ahmadinejad’s expense.
The ayatollah will seek “to eliminate the post of president,” said Aliakbar Mousavi Khoeini, a former reformist member of the Parliament now living in exile in the United States.
“If they can get that, they will not hold the next presidential election; instead, Parliament will chose a prime minister,” he said. “Then Khamenei will essentially have everything he does approved and pushed through Parliament by his allies.”
Ayatollah Khamenei suggested last October that Iran would be better off governed under a parliamentary system in which the prime minister was chosen from members of the 290-seat Parliament. Under Iran’s byzantine electoral system, most reformist candidates were barred from running in last Friday’s election, essentially creating a contest between the two main hard-liner camps.
With 90 percent of the districts counted, Ayatollah Khamenei’s allies had won about 75 percent of the 200 seats in those districts, according to Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite channel, quoting the Interior Ministry.
The headline in Kayhan, the newspaper closest to the supreme leader, read, “Principalists win big.”