President Hassan Rouhani is expected to introduce his Cabinet members for his second presidential term on Saturday.
Different views are being circulated by people and experts in the media. Some say the new Cabinet is going to be the same as the previous one. Others believe that Rouhani will pay heed to people’s demand that the government become younger.
A report by Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has reviewed the subject of Cabinet members’ average age in 17 countries. Iran ranks third after India and China among countries with the highest average age of ministers.
Based on the report, the average age of the Cabinet currently stands at 62, which stood at 58 when the government took office in August 2013.
A review of the average age of Cabinet members since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 reveals that the variable has increased by 19 years during the period.
This is too much for a country in which the average age of the population stands close to 31 years, according to the latest round of National Population and Housing Census conducted in Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2016-17).
Hossein Kamali, ex-labor minister under former presidents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, believes that selecting ministers based on meritocracy has nothing to do with age.
“Innovation and being up-to-date are not necessarily negatively correlated with age,” he said.
“I believe in choosing a young Cabinet from among the elite. The country should not be run by a certain group of people forever. The young must learn from the experienced and gradually take their place. It is better if young people take charge but ones who are knowledgeable and experienced.”
Kamali said knowledge is the basis of experience that is more often than not with the elderly. He, however, added that the notion that youth is synonymous with innovation or scientific outlook is flawed.
“What is important is that Cabinet members should be efficient and proficient,” he said.
Economist Ali Sarzaeim said in choosing Cabinet members, governments usually pursue two traits that are mutually exclusive.
“They want someone who is experienced so that risks and mistakes are reduced to a minimum. Experience is gained through years of working in different positions and requires the person to be elderly,” he said.
“On the other hand, they look for changes and transitions, the desire of which is found in the younger generation. The older generation is more conservative and wants the current state of events to endure. The Cabinet must be a combination of these two.”
Sarzaeim noted that in 2013, the country and its economy were in a state of crisis and as such, experience was preferred to youth and innovation.
“We needed to stabilize the situation and so the selection of an older Cabinet by the then-president should not be blamed,” he said.
Now, he goes on to say, we have a relatively stable economy and the society demands a younger Cabinet.
“The government must not be scared and should inject new blood into its body. If people see that their votes have not resulted in the fulfillment of their demands, their support for the government will wither.”