One of the fiercest critics of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was voted back in by lawmakers on Monday as speaker of Iran’s new parliament formed from elections held in March and May.
Ali Larijani, a loquacious 55-year-old regime insider whose brothers also hold key posts, fought off a challenge from Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, a 67-year-old former speaker who advocated a more moderate approach to Ahmadinejad’s government.
Both Larijani and Hadad Adel are seen as close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who has in recent years curbed Ahmadinejad’s authority.
Larijani faithfully echoed Khamenei’s stances while heading up the last parliament over the past four years, and was a rival to Ahmadinejad for the presidency in 2005.
He was also Iran’s top nuclear negotiator up to October 2007, when he resigned over differences with Ahmadinejad. That nuclear issue is currently the top foreign policy challenge facing the Islamic republic.
Hadad Adel, an advisor to the supreme leader, has a son married to Khamenei’s daughter.
Lawmakers returned Larijani with 173 votes, against 100 for Hadad Adel. The new 290-seat assembly remains a staunchly conservative body ranged against Ahmadinejad.
Larijani’s family is a pillar of the Islamic establishment. His younger brother, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, is the head of Islamic republic’s judiciary. His elder brother, Mohammad Javad, is an advisor to Khamenei.