One week after going on nationwide television to offer his resignation, Iranian Premier Mehdi Bazargan remains firmly attached to his office.
The numerous occasions in recent months on which Bazargan has submitted his resignation on apparently basic issues of principle without going through with it have traced a steady decline in the prime minister's power.
The coordination and effectiveness of government may have increased with the partial merger in July of the Cabinet and the Revolutionary Council, a move which followed a bitter denunciation by Bazargan of numerous rival revolutionary power centers. But his personal influence has, if anything, continued to wane.
As his speech last week acknowledged, Bazargan has been accused by influential members of the Revolutionary Council and their associates within the Cabinet of being ineffective or "insufficiently revolutionary."
"Even the television, which is run by the government, considers it its responsibility to criticize the government," Bazargan complained.
At the same time, Bazargan has distanced himself from the more revolutionary actions urged by some critics by retorting that "if revolutionary actions mean killing and suppression . . . then we are not revolutionary."
While the prime minister's resignation speeches always stir speculation about his political future, rumors that unofficial head of state Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had accepted Bazargan's request to quit appear groundless.
Bazargan has continued with his public duties and appearances. Among the latest was a fact-finding visit to the western city of Mahabad, the center of Kurdish guerrilla resistance to the government until its occupation by the army earlier this week.
Whether out of faith in the qualities that led him to appoint Bazargan prime minister in the first place or for more practical considerations, Khomeini is clearly not yet ready to dispense with his services.
Observers stress that Bazargan's government is a provisional one, and that it might not be worthwhile for Khomeini to name a new prime minister and shake up the administration with elections for a president and parliament now due in a matter of weeks.
For the same reason, few are seen as eager contenders at this stage for Bazargan's joband the somewhat diminished authority that it carries.
An additional deterrent to taking the premiership at this time, some observers say, is the political ferment which is widely expected in the next few weeks with the start of a new academic year in Iranian universities and the prospect of confrontation between radical left- and right-wing student factions.
Bazargan appears fated to stay in office. As one observer commented, "He may remain in office until the elections, but he will lose power day by day."
In the meantime, the assumption of a more direct role in government by Khomeini, already the self-proclaimed commander-in-chief of the armed forces, appears to be the natural corollary to the premier's declining powers.
There is now widespread speculation on the probability of a return to Tehran by the Ayatollah, whose base since last March has been the holy city of Qom, 90 miles south of the capital.