Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On the Occasion of Constitutional Revolution

Talking of Constitutional Revolution a friend told me: “it seems establishing Majlis (parliament) was not enough, one wonders how useful it had been.” There is no doubt that a parliament by itself is only an institution, a building full of chambers and chairs. There are the people in it who make a difference. When there are men like Mossadeq and Modarres in the very same institution, it opens the ways.

It is interesting to notice that Majlis approved reforms rarely were re-tracked in Iran. They might have been modified in a way, but the original goal had not been abandoned. For example the civil and criminal codes during 1920’s, or nationalizing oil during 1950’s were not re-tracked. Of course there were loopholes in criminal codes and Shah accepted an international consortium to run Iran’s oil industry but the spirit of these changes never died.

The truth to be told Iran is an ancient country with very young institutions. Its parliament is roughly 100 years old. And all other institutions are much younger. Its regular armed forces continuous traditions do no go beyond 1920. The oldest university in Iran, University of Tehran was established in 1930’s and remained the only university of country for a decade. Banking, Stock Exchange Market and Chamber of Commerce are all among the youngest in the world. City council and their elections are roughly a decade old.

Observing the events and reading Iran’s history one could not help noticing that how Iran’s statesmen become proficient parliamentary politicians. Of Mr. Haddad Adel current speaker of house there is no greater praise said than that of Mr. Abtahi who wrote: “During the sixth Majlis (1999-2003) Mr. Haddad Adel was never hesitant to use parliamentary mechanism to play realpolitik”. Almost all politicians in Iran have experienced both minority and majority roles. Mr. Karrubi even administrated a parliament when the minority had won presidential election.

There is no doubt that there were mistakes, there is no doubt that parliament did not give Iranians what they wanted. But also there is no doubt that Majlis as an institution has done so much. A sustainable growth and a permanent development require more than only one institution, and even then institutions are only efficient if they are run efficiently. After all even the most significant one is administrated by human beings. There is no institution that could possibly substitute the individual. Constitutional Revolution was not a fruitless effort. Although bombarded, besieged, murdered, exiled and forgotten it continues to be a source of hope, strength and courage. Like Iran, Constitutional Revolution was and is a survivor.

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