A former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander was installed as speaker of Iran’s parliament today, further tightening the grip of hard-liners on the country’s lawmaking body.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is the former mayor of Tehran, and also served as an IRGC air force commander and national police chief. The new speaker also had several failed bids for president; he lost to both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani, the current president.
Gaining 230 out of 264 votes, Ghalibaf won overwhelmingly in parliament today. The 58-year-old replaces Ali Larijani, who held the position since 2008.
Ghalibaf’s election to the speakership cements what is an already ultraconservative new parliament standing in sharp contrast to the relatively moderate Rouhani.
Legislation supported by the president sailed through the previous parliament, but will face significant hurdles in the new hard-liner-dominated assembly, where 220 out of the 290 seats are held by conservatives.
“This parliament will not act as a government representative,” the oldest member of the new legislative body, Reza Taghavi, made clear to Rouhani and his team in the opening ceremony Wednesday.
During the parliament’s opening, lawmakers had their temperatures taken before entering the building and many arrived in face masks, state TV reported.
Iran is currently dealing with the region’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak. Today, health officials confirmed 63 more deaths, bringing the death toll to 7,627. The total number of cases has reached 143,849.