PHOTO: Former President Mohammad Khatami “Iranians Demand Fulfillment of Slogans”
As centrists and reformists celebrate gains in Iran’s elections, former reformist President Mohammad Khatami has proclaimed a “victory for all”.
Khatami is barred by the regime from appearing or being quoted in Iranian media, but he published a letter to Iranians as the centrist-reformist alliance took almost half the declared seats in Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses the Supreme Leader.
The former President heralded support for the Rouhani Government:
It is the government’s turn, particularly the respected representatives of our nation, to serve the desires and demands of the people, especially through the creation of economic prosperity, advancement of their livelihood, and the formation of an open, healthy political climate….
[Iranians] are demanding the fulfillment of the slogans and programs that [our] respected President has offered and for which they voted.
A Mixed Parliament
Exact counts of the new Majlis vary according to whether “independents” are predicted to join one of the two main blocs, the conservatives and the centrists-reformists, and there are about 60 runoff contests in April for the 290-seat Parliament.
However, the best estimate is that conservatives will hold about half the seats, with the centrist-reformist bloc having a sizable minority far in excess of their representation over the past decade.
In the most symbolic result of the contest, the centrist-reformist List of Hope took all 30 seats in Tehran. The leader of Iran’s conservative bloc, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, finished 31st.
The success came despite the efforts of the Guardian Council to restrict the vote, with more than 6,000 candidates — including all but 90 reformists — disqualified.
A New Assembly of Experts?
Even more surprising was the rise of the centrist-reformist bloc could challenge the conservatives in the 88-member Assembly of Experts.
Estimates indicate that the conservative “Two Societies” list is only assured of about 35 seats so far. The conservatives will depend on their majority on the 31 successful clerics also endorsed by the centrist Friends of Moderates.
Candidates endorsed by the Friends of Moderation alone won at least 11 seats, while independents won at least five seats.
The Guardian Council had disqualified 80% of the applicants for the Assembly, including the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.
However, the bans may have spurred a backlash against hardliners and conservatives. Among those who lost their seats in Tehran were the current chair of the Assembly, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, and the leader of the hardline Endurance Front, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
The Assembly could take on added importance during its eight-year term because of the possibility that it will have to replace the Supreme Leader, 76 and in fragile health.
The results add the possibility that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the leading centrists, could regain the chair of the Assembly.
Rafsanjani, who led the body from 2007 to 2011, has controversially proposed a Leadership Council after Ayatollah Khamenei’s death.