Iranians Gear Up for Parliamentary Elections

By Rohollah Faghihi, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Over the past year, Iranian conservatives have strenuously sought to reach consensus on how to win the parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 26. Prior to that, moderate and hard-line factions had fought each other for a decade for dominance within the conservative camp. At present, the moderates appear to have been defeated. It may seem odd to some, but the moderates are likely to be happy about that.

The hard-liners have strict views on the enforcement of Islamic law and oppose closer relations with the outside world, including the nuclear deal Iran signed with the six world powers. The moderates, who share some views with the Reformists, do not like to be compared with the hard-liners, who are unpopular among the general public. The conservative camp is increasingly defined by orthodoxy, and this is harming the moderates’ image among voters.

After years of attempts to force moderates from the conservative leadership, the hard-liners seem to have succeeded. The defeat, however, is voluntarily and guided by moderate leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the Expediency Council; Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri, head of the supreme leader’s Inspection Office; and Ali Larijani, speaker of parliament.

Rafsanjani and Nategh-Nuri were marginalized by the hard-liners led by Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi during the 2005 presidential elections, which resulted in victory for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Subsequently, Rafsanjani and Nategh-Nuri gradually left the stage. Indeed, up until a few years ago, Larijani was the only prominent moderate remaining in the conservative camp.

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