Amid Ongoing Iranian Elections Moderates are Forced to the Sidelines

An Iranian woman in Tehran walk passes next to electoral posters of reformist candidate Kazem Jalali for the upcoming Parliamentary elections . (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA)

Washington Post - February 26, 2016 - Iranians headed to the polls Friday in parliament elections made easy for conservatives after sweeping bans that left many pro-reform candidates off the ballots, adding further political pressures on Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s pragmatist president.

The election once had the potential to be a bellwether between Rouhani’s moderate views — which helped pave the way for a nuclear accord with world powers — and hard-liners who oppose him.
But with only a limited number of moderates and reformers on the ballot, analysts say the election is unlikely to foreshadow a history-making moment of change in Iran.
The election — the first since a nuclear deal lifted most of the international sanctions that had hobbled economic growth — is being closely watched nevertheless.
“Our enemies have their covetous eyes trained on Iran,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, according to state TV. “People are advised to vote with discretion and foresight and disappoint the enemies.”
Though opposition activists call the election a sham, the vote totals could open a small window onto the Iranian appetite for change and Rouhani’s political future.
“It will be a major loss for the Iranian nation” if reformists do not win, former president Ayatollah Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani, who left office in 1997, told Reuters.
Many Western officials hoped the nuclear deal’s implementation in January would pave the way for Rouhani to introduce measures granting civil liberties and less Internet censorship, as he promised when he was elected in 2013. Now the best-case scenario is that urbanized voters in Tehran give Rouhani a small but strong minority to support economic reform.
At stake are 290 seats in the parliament, or Majlis, an institution with limited powers but capable of blocking initiatives from the president’s office. There are 6,200 candidates, but that is barely half the number who initially registered to run.
A hard-line body known as the Guardian Council disqualified more hopefuls than ever before in the 37 years since the Islamic revolution.
Nine moderate parties estimated that only 1 percent of the 3,000 reformist candidates who registered were permitted to run. Among those rejected were three dozen current members of parliament.
On the ballot are more female candidates than ever in a country where only 49 women have served in parliament since 1979. This time, 584 women are running, though about 800 were disqualified.
The election also will determine the Assembly of Experts, a uniquely Iranian council of 88 mostly elderly clerics who are nominally charged with selecting the next supreme leader if the ailing, 76-year-old Khamenei dies in the next eight years of the assembly’s term. That candidate list also has been culled. Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of the founder of the Islamic republic, was disqualified because he is close to reformist politicians. READ MORE-Washington Post

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...