Gains for reformists in Iran

EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Former Iranian vice president and the head of the reformist candidates for the parliamentary election, Mohammad Reza Aref (C) casts his vote in the parliamentary and Experts Assembly election at a polling station at Ershad Mosque in Tehran, Iran, 26 February 2016. Nearly 55 million voters will elect on 26 February the representatives out of 6,229 candidates competing for 290 parliamentary seats, in addition to choosing 88 members out of 161 clerics for the Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for electing a new supreme leader in case the post becomes vacant.

Gains for reformists in Iran


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The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his reformist allies won a convicing victory on Friday.

Results

With over 90% of the votes counted on Sunday, it appears that President Rouhani and his allies have secured all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran, which often determines political momentum. Reformers did less well in the regions and other major urban centers.

The pro-Rouhani reformers appear to have secured 30% (79 seats) of the vote, independents 20% (44 seats) and hardline Ayatollah Ali Khamenei supporters below 50% (106 seats)in a 290-seat parliament.

Hardliners or “principalists” held control over 65% of the previous parliament. This means that for the first time in the Islamic Republic’s 37-year history, not one faction controls the parliament. 25% of parliamentary seats will be decided in runoffs in April.

This victory for reformists verifies that the hope of opening up the economy to the West, ending years of economically crippling sanctions, was especially significant.

Technical aspects

There was over 60% participation among Iran’s 55 million eligible voters. Reformers did exceptionally well given that many of their candidates were excluded from the electoral procedure. Under Iranian electoral law, 12,000 registered candidates were vetted for their “moral credentials” by the {revolutionary} Guradian Council that disqualified nearly two thirds. 4,844 candidates ended up competing for the 290 seats.

The road ahead

On January 16, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran’s implementation of the agreement and the attached Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was satisfactory. That means that more frozen Iranian assets will be released and sanctions will finally end. That is important to everyone, from pistachio farmers and carpet makers, to bankers, hoteliers, and flight operators. Iran is thirsty to import and export. Not everyone is a winner. During the long period of embargo there were two-tier companies, those with access to resources and those without. As priorities change, interests collide. At this point in time, the balance of power appears open to compromises. For Iran, that is a first in a long time.

(with IRNA, GRI, DW, BBC, Reuters)

 

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