Iran’s Elections 2013: The Reformists are Playing Ball

Elections 2013 Candidates, Left to Right: Mohmmad Reza Aref, Gholamali Hadad-Adel, Ali Akbar Velyati, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nori

From Left to Right: Mohmmad Reza Aref, Gholamali Hadad-Adel, Ali Akbar Velyati, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nori

Six months after the 10th Presidential Election, the dust had settled and Tehran was calm after a period of unrest. The opposition didn’t reach their goal to cancel the election. It was clear that Iran’s 11th Presidential Election will be a significant one.

In 2009, various opposition groups from inside and outside of Iran, formed the opposition coalition, with the majority of them being the so called “Reformists”. Reformists views are closer to those of Western countries and despite the “Pricipalists” ideology (which is Islam first), they imagine that Western culture and politics, can be embedded in Islamic ideology with a few modifications.

After the 10th Presidential Election, the opposition claimed fraud in the voting and this went on for months. [Just as the opposition in Venezuela is now doing (perhaps the same paymasters)] Senior Iranian officials offered legal ways to pursue the legitimacy of the votes through the Guardian Council, but they refused and the Supreme Leader accused them of trying to topple the government.

The accusation was made once the majority of the opposition stopped street protests. Accordingly, In the eyes of Iranian officials, only those opposition leaders which continued to pursue an incitement to protest were accused that they were acting in collusion with Iran’s enemies, meaning the US and Israel.

In spite of requests from Iranian officials, the Leaders of the Reformist movements defended their acts of 2009.

The dissension between Reformists and the government led to a belief in public opinion that they won’t take part in the 11th Presidential Election; Because they think the Islamic Republic was not a worthy entity for the people’s vote.

But political observers have witnessed statements from Reformist activists citing the importance of being a part of these Presidential Elections. Four Reformists have declared their candidacy so far; even though most of the activists insist on Khatami’s candidacy.

Iran’s Former President (1997-2001), Muhammad Khatami was among the opposition leaders of 2009. He didn’t condemn the acts in 2009 against the Islamic Republic and was on the same dangerous path as Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi. According to security officials, since January 2011, Mousavi and Karroubi were under 24/7 surveillance so that they would not attempt any revolt.

Muhammad Reza Aref declared his candidacy on behalf of Muhammad Khatami, because Khatami’s supporters  suggest he won’t he wont run in the elections.

We can conclude that the majority of the Reformist groups are confused. They don’t know whether Khatami will enter the controversial Presidential race or if he will try to defend his acts in the past. Because Iranian officials claim that if Khatami insisted that his 2009 stance was correct then this could be interpreted as an act of treason and such a person does not merit to be the President.

Based on these facts, some activists say that if Khatami doesn’t pledge loyalty to Iran’s leader and the revolution, he won’t pass the vetting process. The Iranian constitution demands that the Guardian Council examines the qualifications of any candidate.

Khatami, who’s chance of candidacy is very low, said that he doesn’t want to be rejected by an Islamic Republic establishment, meaning the Guardian Council.

Despite the objection from some of the reformists, those close to Khatami are trying to convince him to become a candidate. But they say that if he doesn’t take a step, Ali Akbar Hashemi, a former Iranian President would be a good replacement.

Mohsen Hashemi, his older son said there are many pressures for his father’s candidacy, and he encourages his father to take the plunge.

Hashemi himself didn’t show a willingness to be a candidate but has said that he will support the final winner.

The fragmentation among the reformists didn’t impact moderate members of the movement like Hasan Rohani, Chief of the Supreme National Security Council in the Khatami administration, Mostafa Kavakebian, Head of the Mardom Salari party and Muhammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Commerce in Khatami’s administration have declared candidacy and have even began their campaigns.

Developments at the Principalists front are totally different. They have come up with more than 10 candidates and it is expected that there will be more before the vetting process begins on the 14th May.

Here is a list of Principalists’ declared candidates:

1-   Mohsen Rezaee, Former Chief Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and currently the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran

2-   Alireza Zakani, member of the Iran’s Majlis (Parliament).

3-   Ali Fallahian, Minister of Intelligence in the cabinet of President Hashemi Rafsanjani from 1989 to 1997.

4-   Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, Minister of Health and Medical Education in the first cabinet of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

5-   Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, former chairman of the Iranian Majlis.

6-   Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and a candidate in the Iranian presidential election of 2005.

7-   Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign minister of Iran from 1981 to 1997. Currently he is an advisor on International Affairs to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

8-   Yahya Al-Eshagh, Minister of Commerce under Cabinet of President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989–1997)

9-   Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, The First deputy of the Majlis speaker.

10- Seyyed Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, The second deputy of the Majlis speaker.

11- Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, Minister of the Interior of Iran (2005-2008).

12- Manouchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2005- 2010).

Yet some of these candidates have made coalitions to beat their opponents. They’ll remain united until the public through surveys shows a preference for one final candidate and then the others in the coalition should support him.

“Pishraft” coalition is the most significant one, consisting of Ali Akbar Velayati, Gholamali Haddad Adel and Muhammad Bagher Ghablibaf. Each one of them are trying to attract more attention and raise their chance of victory against the two others in the coalition.

Seyef Muhammad Hassan Abutorabifard, Muhammad Reza Bahonar, Yahya Al-eshagh, Mustafa Pourmohammadi and Manuchehr Mottaki form another notable coalition called “Coalition of the Majority of Pricipalists”.

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