Iran's new awakening:  Can Hardliners rock the boat?
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2016-03-04 09:16:09

Iran's new awakening:  Can Hardliners rock the boat?

Hassan Rouhani

Iranian hardliners suffered another election setback on Monday with two leading conservatives ejected from the top clerical body, handing another victory to moderate President Hassan Rouhani whose reformist allies made gains. The public’s rejection of Ayatollahs Mohammad Yazdi and Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi when picking the powerful Assembly of Experts came as final results were also awaited for parliamentary polls after voting on Friday. The reformist camp which allied with Mr Rouhani in the elections staged a comeback, especially in the capital where preliminary results on Sunday showed them taking all 30 seats at the expense of conservatives. It appears that the reformist/pragmatist camp within Iranian politics, allied with President Hassan Rouhani, has made significant gains. Though the conservative bloc dominated the outgoing Majles and has captured around the same number of seats as the reformists as per the latest figures, the reformists have managed to claw back considerable space in parliament. The reformist camp appears to have adopted a more cautious approach, choosing not to rock the boat. As for the Assembly of Experts, some leading conservative figures, such as Ayatollah Mesbah-Yezdi, considered close to former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, have lost their seats. While 60 seats will most likely need a run-off, the reformists appear to have triumphed in Tehran. In the rural heartland of Iran the conservatives continue to hold sway. Though some, particularly in the West, have been critical of the Iranian system — many reformist candidates were blocked from running by the establishment — the fact is that despite the curbs, with the Iranian revolution now in its fourth decade, the system continues to evolve. Like any other political system, the left- and right-wing forces are constantly jostling for political power in Iran. What is welcome is that the democratic process continues, unlike some of the autocracies in the region. Many conservatives had criticised the landmark nuclear deal piloted last year by Mr Rouhani. Thus the election results seem to be a public endorsement — the turnout was around 60pc — of the Iranian president’s policies. Also, the reformist boycott of the 2012 parliamentary polls, in hindsight, seems to have been a mistake. Iranians should be left to chart their own future and their choices must be respected. With newfound allies in the Majles, Mr Rouhani may now have a freer hand to pursue his policy of engaging the West while also attempting to mend fences with Iran’s Arab neighbours, namely the Gulf states.

pk.shafaqna.com

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