The Iranian parliament recently dismissed the country's transportation minister, Hamid Benhabani, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In an e-mail interview, Jamsheed Choksy, professor of Iranian, Central Eurasian and international studies at Indiana University, discussed the relationship between Iran's president and parliament.
WPR: How would you characterize Ahmadinejad's relationship with the Iranian parliament over the course of his presidency?
Jamsheed Choksy: Relations between the executive, legislative, judicial and theocratic branches of the Islamic Republic's government have always been tense, as each bloc attempts to expropriate more authority. Ahmadinejad's presidency has been no different. In his first term, from 2005-2009, he battled parliamentarians over appointing women as cabinet ministers and how the budget should be allocated. Since beginning his second term, Ahmadinejad and his close advisers have taken the position that the presidency is foremost among branches of government. They assert the president should not be answerable to parliament on most matters -- including economic subsidies, enforcement of modesty codes and nuclear negotiations. He has even begun challenging the administrative authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose office technically supersedes all others.