Battling on

BATTLING to get his second term as Iran's president off the ground, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week named his cabinet. His choices suggest that, in the face of ongoing political turmoil, he prizes personal loyalty over competence.

Mr Ahmadinejad has long struggled with his cabinet. In his first term he strove for months to get his ministers approved by parliament, and then went on to lose so many of them through resignations and sackings that he came close to facing a vote of no confidence. Parliament now has until August 30th to consider his latest nominations and there are already signs that this will be a difficult process.

Mr Ahmadinejad enters his second term facing unusually difficult challenges. The street protests that followed a disputed presidential election have died down, but have not stopped entirely. Many of Iran’s most powerful figures, including senior clergy, have lined up against him. And the president’s parliamentary base is weak. Nor does it help that the country’s economic woes have continued to worsen.

The president has responded by putting a premium on loyalty rather than on experience when choosing ministers. Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, Fatemeh Ajorlou and Sousan Keshavarz, if confirmed, would be the first female cabinet ministers since the Islamic revolution, taking responsibility for health, social welfare and education respectively. Although some may rejoice at the promotion of women, liberals grumble that all three ... >>>

recommended by Ali Lakani