House of Parties
The House of Parties was founded in 2001. The idea to establish the House of Parties as a guild for parties was developed in meetings organized by the Ministry of Interior, in which leaders of the political parties were invited to discuss political issues of the country. At that time the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami was in power, and “political development” was one of the projects that reformists were trying to push forward. Promoting established and powerful parties was part of this project.
In such a context, the House of Parties was formed out of all parties recognized by the Ministry of Interior (thereby excluding parties such as the Iran Liberation Movement). The House of Parties was not limited to the parties in Tehran; provincial parties also participated.
The goals of the House of Parties include: guaranteeing and institutionalizing political activities; creating the spirit of cooperation; strengthening the financial abilities of parties; defending the legal rights of parties; and expanding party activities to international communities and exchanging experiences with other countries. To achieve these goals, the tasks of the House included establishing research centers to conduct research relevant to political parties; holding conferences, meeting, etc. related to political parties; holding meetings between different parties for mutual understanding; giving suggestions about bills related to political parties; and arbitration between political parties upon their request.
The House of Parties has five organizational subdivisions: the General Assembly, the Central Committee, Presiding Council, inspectors, and committees. All political parties have one representative in the general assembly. The General Assembly chooses the Central Committee, passes ratifications of the central assembly, determines general policies of the House of Parties , and makes decisions about nullification.
The Central Committee has 15 members. The Central Committee drafts general policies of the House of Parties, manages the annual budget, holds the meetings of the General Assembly, and determines the representatives of the House of Parties in other organizations and meetings.
The Presiding Council supervises the committees, drafts agendas and minutes, and manages the meetings of the Central Committee. The five committees are public relations, legal-judical committee, arbitration committee, financial and logistical committee, international relations committee, and the committee of election supervision. Inspectors also comment on the reports of the Central Committee, report periodical inspections to the Central Committee, and report violations of the Central Committee to the General Assembly.
Since its inception, reformist parties have had the majority in the House of Parties, and the Central Committee has always been filled with reformist members. Hosein Musavi Tabrizi was elected as the first secretary general and was reelected for the position until last year. The current secretary general is Hosein Kashefi from the Participation Party. The House of the Parties played several important roles in its beginning years. First of all, it brought together parties from different poles of the political spectrum in Iran under one roof. It also had a representative on the Table of Parties in the main election headquarters of the Ministry of Interior at each election to supervise the election. The House of Party also made a big push to initiate the government subsidy for political parties during Khatami’s government.
When in 2005 Mohammad Khatami ceded the presidency to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, government policy toward the House of the Parties completely changed. Ahmadinejad and his team were hostile toward political parties and explicitly rejected their importance. They cut the subsidies for political parties and removed the representative of the House of Parties from its position in supervising elections. Finally, Ahmadinejad’s Ministry of Interior on several occasions proclaimed the House of Parties illegal. They mentioned some very particular problems with the internal process of the House of Parties and its executive bylaw as reasons for the illegality, while the major reason was the dominance of the reformist parties in the House and the general hostility of the Ahmadinejad administration towards political parties.