Iran’s new parliament convened on Wednesday despite the coronavirus pandemic, after February elections that registered record low turnouts in the Islamic Republic.
The temporary speaker of parliament Reza Taghavi described the new parliament as belonging to the country’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“We want to solve the country’s problems by uniting behind the Supreme Leader,” said Taghavi.
Iran’s election watchdog, the Guardian Council, disqualified over half of the candidates from running in the parliamentary election, and left voters a choice mostly between hardline and low-key conservative candidates loyal to Khamenei to contest the elections.
The February 21 election registered a 42.57 percent turnout, the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic. This was indicative of the level of public discontent amongst Iranians, according to analysts.
The Iranian parliament has no say in the country’s foreign policies or nuclear program, which are determined by Khamenei. The new parliament is also unlikely to change the Islamic Republic’s troubled relations with the US.
President Rouhani expressed hope that the new parliament and his government would “cooperate” for the remaining one year of his administration.
Next week, lawmakers will choose a speaker of parliament for a one-year term.
For the past 12 years, Ali Larijani had served as speaker of parliament. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a former commander at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is viewed as a likely successor to Larijani.
Iran’s new parliament convenes despite coronavirus pandemic