I would not usually take note of an Iranian government minister–in this case the minister of agriculture–being subjected to a no-confidence motion, and surviving. But this story, from The Peninisular On-line (Qatar) is a reminder that Iran is a bit more complex than typically understood in the ‘West’.
Lawmakers who sought to unseat Mohammad Reza Eskandari mustered 98 votes, falling short of the required simple majority of the 247 MPs who voted, state radio reported. Parliament has 290 seats. [in other words, it failed by 26 votes--MSS]
Some members of parliament, which is dominated by the Abadgaran faction that backed Ahmadinejadâ€™s presidential bid last year, have become increasingly critical of the government, particularly its failure to rein in rising prices.
The debate was broadcast live on state radio, and takes place in a context of upcoming elections.
Political bickering has been mounting ahead of December elections to a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to dismiss the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Local council polls will be held at the same time.
Khamenei, Iranâ€™s highest authority, told officials this month to stop criticising the government in public [evidently without effect--MSS].
The Assembly of Experts is indeed directly elected by the voters, though, as with all elected posts in Iran, the candidates must be vetted by the Council of Guardians, made up of senior clerics elected by the Experts. I have seen news reports that the vetting process for Experts candidates is itself a campaign issue for the upcoming elections.
Some months ago, Ahmadinejad failed in several attempts to get his oil minister confirmed by parliament, before finally settling on a compromise candidate. And this was the second attempted no-confidence motion in one of his ministers, although the other did not reach a vote.
No, Iran is not a democracy. But it is also not the tyranny that most Americans, Europeans, and Israelis presumably imagine it to be.