In June 2013, Iranians voted for Rouhani on the basis of his new discourse of moderation and constructive engagement with the world and his description of the Ahmadinejad government as an administration that is inefficient and full of slogans. Indeed, looking back at previous presidential elections, it appears that Iranians do not care much about various governments’ actual performance, but rather their discourse and their ability to rally voters. Thus, it can be reasonably assumed that Rouhani will secure a second term in May 2017.
The last and most important factor is the consensus among Reformists on Rouhani. The Reformist camp neither can nor wants to sideline the incumbent president. In their view, Rouhani’s performance has been acceptable, while the political and economic shortcomings of his administration are due to factors outside the government’s control.
As such, the Reformists believe that they should stand behind the Rouhani administration with all their might in order to advance their own agenda under his cover. Moreover, the Reformists lack a charismatic new leader who can run against Rouhani or a Principlist candidate. Their preferred figures, such as former president Khatami and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, are unable to run since the former will likely be disqualified by the Guardian Council while the latter is under house arrest.
Thus, pragmatism will continue to prevail, dictating a continued Reformist consensus on support for Rouhani.