1 Mar '16    home | more politics

Steps toward moderation in Iran

Iran's President Rouhani has won a "landslide victory in Tehran" – elections held four days ago, the first parliamentary vote since Iran signed its nuclear deal with world powers. Rouhani has been identified as the architect of Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers

Lyse Doucet of BBC News writes:

This stunning election result will make a difference in Iran's engagement with the wider world.
President Rouhani's hand has been strengthened in parliament to help open his country to greater trade and investment. That will help him, and others in his reformist camp, to deepen the dialogue with the West, which began with negotiations on a landmark nuclear deal. But much of this opening will continue to be with Europe, rather than the US. Iran's relationship with America is still complex.

The Iranians elected a new Parliament and the so-called Assembly of Experts, a council of senior clerics that is tasked with selecting the supreme leader. Hardliners won 68 seats in parliament, down from 112 seats in the 290-seat body. The elections are described as a "further consolidation of the centrist moment" in Iranian politics heralded by Rouhani's presidential victory in 2013.

Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment, warns that the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Revolutionary Guards, remain firmly entrenched. And he says,

Iran remains a police state, in which, if you're a journalist, you're an author, you're a civil society activist, you can be plucked off the street, put in prison without reason, without explanation.

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of politics at Tehran University, says Rouhani will face less opposition in parliament, but "how much less we will have to wait and see." Reports the Guardian:

Zibakalam hopes Rouhani may be able to secure the freedom of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, presumed winners of the 2009 presidential election that was allegedly "stolen" by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The fact that they remain under house arrest vividly illustrates Rouhani's limitations.

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