Iran’s Parliament Limits Its Power as a Watchdog
New York Times / Nazila Fathi

Taking the unusual step of limiting its own authority, Iran’s Parliament on Wednesday adopted a law that would curb its ability to review regulations issued by the most powerful, unelected institutions of the state.

It was not immediately clear what propelled Parliament to adopt a measure that would formally undermine powers granted to it under the Constitution. But the decision seemed to be an acknowledgment of the reality that the elected Parliament was often blocked from fulfilling its role as a watchdog over the institutions of state.

The legislation did, however, appear to be another step in the political evolution of Iran to a state where appointed officials and allies of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wield far more authority than do the elected representatives. That tension between appointed and elected officials has existed since the founding of the Islamic Republic, but the balance lately has steeply tipped in the favor of the supreme leader and the institutions run by appointed officials.

“There is a very thin line between laws and regulations in Iran,” said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former member of Parliament who is a visiting scholar at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Many of these internal regulations have become laws and norms that have deeply affected the country.”

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