Fact Check: Did the Sixth Majlis Work ‘Against the Interests of the People’?
Mohammad Ismail Kowsari is an MP for Tehran in the current Majlis. Mr. Kowsari has recently told the conservative Keyhan Daily that “the 6th Majlis did not work for the benefit of Iranians; the focus of its activities was against the interests of the people; its actions were detrimental for the country and were more to the benefit of foreigners.”
Conservatives Keen to Avoid a Repeat of the Reformist 6th Majlis
Mr. Kowsari made his remarks after Iran’s Supreme Leader implicitly criticized the 6th Majlis, the parliament that served alongside former President Khatami. A majority of the representatives in the 6th Majlis belonged to the reformist political current.
On January 9, 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said that “on issues such as nuclear talks, a Majlis that confronts the enemy and bravely and independently expresses the nation’s positions and desires is drastically different from a Majlis that repeats whatever the enemy utters.”
Keyhan Daily published Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks and stressed that “people will not allow the 10th Majlis to turn into a tribune for those who are infatuated with America and the West, and as a result they will elect MPs for the upcoming Majlis with sensitivity and consideration.”
Based on Iran’s Constitution, Majlis primarily has two responsibilities: legislating and supervising. According to Article 71 of the Constitution, Majlis “can establish laws on all matters, within the limits of its competence as laid down in the Constitution.” Article 76 of the Constitution says that the Majlis “has the right to investigate and examine all the affairs of the country.” Based on Articles 88 and 89 of the Constitution, Majlis has the authority to “question ministers and the president and impeach them.”
Assessing the Record of the 6th Majlis
Majlis’ legislative and supervisory activities should be studied in order to assess the record of each parliament, and determine whether or not each one acted “against the interests of the people.”
The 6th Majlis holds the all-time record for drafting laws and approving them when compared to other post-revolution Iranian parliaments. More than all other parliaments in the past 37 years since the Islamic Revolution, the 6th Majlis passed 397 laws. In contrast, in the first 3 years of its formation, the current 9th Majlis passed a total of only 103 bills.
The 6th Majlis made extensive use of its “investigation and inspection” powers and completed 30 investigations. Some of the investigations conducted by this Majlis were unprecedented in the history of Iran since the Islamic revolution. Subjects of investigation ranged from the IRIB (Iran’s public government-owned broadcaster), prisons and detention centers, the ‘Bonyad Mostazafan’ (Islamic Republic Foundation for the Oppressed), and Stat Oil corruption. In order to clarify the way elections are held in Iran, the 6th Majlis MPs unanimously approved and implemented a bill to “investigate and inspect the 7th Majlis election,” a decision that was extraordinary and unprecedented. While the 5th Majlis only conducted 5 investigations, the 6th Majlis turned its supervisory powers into an important function of parliament.
Moreover, although the so-called reformist political current held a majority of the seats in the 6th Majlis and had a similar mindset as the government of Mohammad Khatami, they still managed to question the government, offer recommendations, and criticize it.
Commissions are also key supervisory tools of the Majlis. The 6th Majlis formed specialized commissions and paid specific attention to the Article 90 Commission, which was responsible for reviewing and investigating complaints about the performance of executive, legislative, and judicial institutions.
The 6th Majlis passed three major bills that stand as significant economic achievements: the law to reform government regulations, the law to reform the budget structure, and the law to draft a fourth 5-year economic plan.
A comparison of the 6th Majlis’ performance with that of other parliaments reveals that this Majlis was successful in discharging its legislative and supervisory duties, it having passed a record number of bills and flexed its supervisory muscles on behalf of the public interest. As a result we rate remarks made by Ismail Kowsari as “false.”