News / Middle East

    Iran Reformists Seek Electoral Gains After Nuclear Deal

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) waves after registering for February's election of the Assembly of Experts, at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Dec. 21, 2015.
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) waves after registering for February's election of the Assembly of Experts, at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Dec. 21, 2015.
    Heather Murdock

    Iranians go to the polls next month to elect two major bodies of leadership: the Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the country’s top body of clerics.

    At the same time, as Iran prepares to rejoin world economic markets with the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the current secular government hopes its performance will ensure electoral victories in the upcoming polls.

    The deal, which aims to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, is seen as reformist President Hassan Rouhani’s biggest foreign policy win, and it is expected to pump billions of dollars into the economy.

    As elections approach, the president and his allies are in a hurry to show the public and religious leaders this deal lives up to its promises, according to analysts.

    “He is a bit of in a rush to implement and to have the sanctions lifted by election time,” said Yan St.-Pierre, who heads the security consulting group Mosecon. “So he can say, ‘Look, my plan is actually working, we are on course.’”

    FILE - Mohsen Rezaei, a former chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a hopeful for the upcoming presidential election, speaks during a press conference.
    FILE - Mohsen Rezaei, a former chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a hopeful for the upcoming presidential election, speaks during a press conference.



    The elections will be critical in shaping Iranian policy for years to come, St. Pierre added. Other analysts warn that hardliners may seek to exploit what some see as failures, like the Iran-Saudi diplomatic dispute, to discredit reformers.

    “It may turn off their supporters, the people who are looking for reform to give up the government and they would not support the elections,” explained Camelia Entekhabifard, an Iranian author and news commentator.

    Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group's senior analyst for Iran, said that if the diplomatic break with Saudi Arabia is used as a political tool ahead of elections, however, the results may be “irrelevant.”

    “Voters go to the polls mostly motivated by domestic issues and not by foreign policy issues,” he said.

    Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with students in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 3, 2015.
    Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with students in Tehran, Iran, Nov. 3, 2015.



    Clerics court widespread support

    The current Assembly of Experts also has a lot riding on the upcoming election, according to Entekhabifard, as it may be called upon to select a new Supreme Leader to replace 76-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    “If he wants to resign, he wants to give up the power, if he dies during these eight years,” she said, “it is important that this assembly chooses the Supreme Leader by claiming having had a massive support of the people coming to cast their votes at this election.”

    High voter turnout, she added, will ensure the Assembly of Experts maintains its authority as the country turns away from isolationism.

    In a speech last week, the Supreme Leader called on all voters — even those that disagreed with him — to turn up at the polls.

    “I emphasize and insist that everybody should take part in our elections,” he said. “I have repeatedly said that even those who do not agree with the Islamic Republic should take part in our elections in order to safeguard the country and raise its status.”

    The Assembly of Experts also has considerable power to affect the outcome of the election, according to St. Pierre of Mosecon. The religious body has the authority to accept or reject candidates before the vote.

    “The vetting process allows them to put a candidate who will be more inclined to support their position in parliament,” he said. “So that’s part of the process to ensure the upper circle — the Assembly of Experts and the clerics, the Supreme Council — maintain the ultimate power.”

    This photo, released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of U.S. Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.
    This photo, released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency Jan. 13, 2016, shows detention of U.S. Navy sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, Iran.

    This doesn’t exclude the possibility that the newly-elected leadership will be more reform-minded, noted St. Pierre. And recent events, including the swift release of 10 U.S. sailors captured this week in Iranian waters, have signaled a shift in Iran that hasn’t been seen since the current governmental system was formed after the 1979 revolution.

    The heart of the system, though, will remain the religious authorities who are quick to point out they remain decidedly anti-Western, despite their possibly grudging support for the Iran deal.

    A [parliament] that repeats what the enemy says — in the case of nuclear negotiations or in the case of different other issues — is very different from a [parliament] that is independent, liberated and courageous,” the Supreme Leader said in his speech.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora