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Power Struggles Amidst Second Round of Iran’s Parliamentary Sham Elections

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Three-minute read

As Iran prepares for the formation of its new parliament, a power struggle rages among factions closely aligned with the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei over the coveted position of parliamentary speaker. Hamid Rasaee, a figure who has garnered increased influence in recent years, immediately called for a change in the parliament’s leadership following the first round of sham elections held in early March.

This move stirred the ire of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other factions aligned with it, who have vested interests in Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the current parliament speaker and former IRGC commander. Consequently, IRGC-affiliated media outlets launched a barrage of attacks against Rasaee.

Furthermore, on May 10, the fate of 45 undecided parliamentary seats will be determined in the second round of elections. With less than a month left until the second round, the specter of widespread rejection of the clerical regime by the Iranian people continues to loom heavily over the parliament. Due to extensive boycotts, nearly all candidates who secured seats in the new parliament received less than 10% of the vote, according to official but heavily manipulated statistics, leaving 45 parliamentary seats vacant.

Behind the scenes, negotiations among various factions and blocs intensify as they vie for key positions such as the parliamentary speaker, committee chairmanships, the parliamentary research center, the Court of Audit, and other pivotal roles. In a legislature that has transcended Khamenei’s filters, the outcome of this power struggle, and who consolidates their power and influence over the legislative bodies, hinges on their proximity to and efficacy in securing the Supreme Leader’s endorsement.

Documents leaked by the Iranian dissident group known as “GhiamSarnegouni” in recent months revealed Ghalibaf’s significant role in passing bills and budgets favorable to the regime’s repressive apparatus and the specific interests of the IRGC.

In the faction aligned with Khamenei, which now constitutes the overwhelming majority in the new parliament, figures such as Hamid Rasaee, Ali Akbar Raefipour, Mojtaba Zolnour, Morteza Agha Tehrani, Ali Nikzad, and others have gained momentum. It is almost certain that this group will ultimately choose and nominate Hamid Rasaee for the position of parliamentary speaker to challenge Ghalibaf.

In the previous round, Khamenei successfully neutralized purported reformist or moderate factions through the Guardian Council and the Ministry of Interior. Consequently, there were virtually no substantial contenders to challenge Ghalibaf. In the new assembly, the influence of these individuals is expected to diminish further, rendering their roles merely symbolic.

However, with the removal of rivals from opposing factions, tensions within the ruling faction have escalated. Due to the proliferation of blocs and conflicting interests, direct confrontation is more likely. As a consequence, regardless of the faction that assumes the parliamentary speakership, it will undoubtedly command fewer votes than in the previous round, and passing legislation and bills will be even more problematic.

Yet, as this confrontation may lead to disclosures about corruption and crimes in state-controlled media and influence public opinion, it is possible that Khamenei, directly or indirectly, will intervene and determine the final outcome of the power play.

In conclusion, the Iranian people have dealt a significant blow to Khamenei and the ruling establishment through their boycott of the sham elections. The Supreme Leader had aimed to align a pliant legislative body with the government of Ebrahim Raisi to tackle economic and social crises, potential uprisings, Iran’s Resistance activities, and international pressures. However, it appears that these pressures will only serve to heighten internal tensions, signaling stormy times ahead for Khamenei’s regime.