Iran’s Parliament has approved a preliminary bill to allow cities with more than 200,000 residents to have their mayor directly elected by the public.

The bill will become law if it gets final approval in its next reading in Parliament.

IRNA reports that 135 MPs voted in favour of the bill, 29 voted against and 14 abstained.

Currently the mayor is voted in by city council members.

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf had expressed opposition to the new bill, saying the council is well qualified to vote in the mayor.

The critics of the current system say mayors elected by the council do not have the necessary job security to fulfill their responsibilities.