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During the Khatami presidency, the conversation used to be about reform, but people grew disappointed by the cowardice of Khatami and in the reform movement he led. In contrast, reformers were gaining ground in Iran, albeit one millimeter at a time. n example was the success of 18 reformist parties agreeing on a common list for the Tehran municipal elections, in contrast to the conservatives, who had multiple competing lists.

Campaigning for Majles elections is not officially permitted until two weeks prior to the elections, which are scheduled for March 14, 2008. Nonetheless, by November 2007 Iran was already very much in election mode. Former Majles speaker Mehdi Karrubi kept his National Trust Party out of the larger reformist coalition, a tactic some groups charge may damage reformists in the elections. Karrubi had long viewed himself as a distinct from the main body of reformists, leading him to set up his own party. Despite the National Trust Party keeping its own electoral list, Karrubi has maintained publicly that "90% of those in our list are coordinated with the reformists."

Reformist groups and factions would take part in Iranís next presidential and city council elections. Announcing the news at a press conference in Tehran on 16 March 2013, the hopeful reformist candidate Mostafa Kavakebian said 18 out of 33 reformist groups back his candidacy. He said , if he wins, his future government would help end the unilateral sanctions regime imposed by the West on Iran over its nuclear energy program, scrap the state subsidy reform plan, prop up the production sector and boost public spending, and forge closer cooperation with the parliament.

The Reformist camp faced a dilemma by 2015. Inside the camp there were two factions with distinct attitudes towards elections and participation. The idealist camp stresses its identity and wants to advocate the basic essential Reformist agenda, even if it means being left out of alliances. This faction harks back to those Reformists who believed in boycotting the elections in case their top figures were disqualified. However, the majority of the Reformists believe in bargaining with other political groups and forming a powerful, vocal minority in Majles, the parliament. The Reformists will probably introduce figures who have a clear Reformist background, with no negative record during the 2009 post-election incidents.

If the parliament failed to satisfy the Reformists, they will be more determined to participate in the next presidential election with an exclusive candidate. This candidate will probably be Mohammad-Reza Aref. Rouhani needed the Reformist support for the 2017 presidential election where he would most likely compete with a Principlist figure. On the other hand, Rouhani knew that alliance with moderate Principlists will help him to form a majority in the parliament. Thus, the government held parallel negotiations with both Principlists and Reformists.

The Reformists were divided into radical and moderate ones. The radical ones believed Mohammad Khatami, who served as president from 1997 to 2005, was the best choice to succeed Ahmadinejad in 2013. They believed that Khatami was capable of garnering enough votes and enforcing policies backed by Reformists. However, some analysts said Khatami was likely to be disqualified by the Guardian Council due to his position following the disputed 2009 election. It was unlikely that he will run for president as disqualification would hurt his social and political reputation.

Radical Reformists, who felt their chance of victory is slim, prefer to minimize their participation in the election.

For their part, moderate Reformists said they had yet to reach consensus on a nominee. They are choosing between former chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani, former Reformist MP Mostafa Kavakebian and former vice-president Mohammad-Reza Aref. Aref has said he would not run if Khatami decides to announce his bid. Former Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari also belongs to this group. He shares conservative views due to his close ties with former Intelligence Minister Mohammad Mohammadi Reishahri.

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Page last modified: 15-12-2015 20:13:18 ZULU