December 8, 2015


Rouhani ups election ante  (Rohollah Faghihi, December 8, 2015, Al-Monitor)

Beyond seeking a second term, President Hassan Rouhani is seemingly setting his sights on another key Iranian state institution -- the Assembly of Experts. This important clerical body supervises the performance of the supreme leader and is also tasked with one day selecting the successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [...]

Rouhani is considered to have been a disciple of Rafsanjani since the beginning of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He has served as Rafsanjani's right hand in various positions over the years, particularly during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. Of note, Rafsanjani announced his nomination for the assembly vote a few months ago. Thus, Rouhani's likely candidacy in the election would join that of Rafsanjani and possibly Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Ruhollah Khomeini. Together, they form a strong trio vis-a-vis hard-line conservatives Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi and Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. In fact, the main contest will likely be between this moderate trio and the hard-liners. [...]

Now with Rouhani's possible assembly candidacy while serving as president, in addition to the likely expanded presence of moderate candidates, the chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts may very well end up in the hands of the moderates once again.

Reformist political analyst Leylaz told Al-Monitor, "Every vote for Rouhani as the moderate president of Iran is tantamount to voting for the whole moderation camp." Furthermore, according to Falahatpishe, the conservative former MP, "Rouhani's nomination will embolden the moderation camp in the election, intensifying the competitive atmosphere." There is also another potential dimension to Rouhani's likely candidacy in the coming elections. One Reformist political analyst who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said, "There is the possibility that Rouhani may attempt to chair the Assembly of Experts."

Many have described the coming assembly election as one of the most critical after the Islamic Revolution. In this vein, Rafsanjani has called for a high voter turnout, from "nationalists" to "revolutionaries." This is driven by the view among moderates that their chances will improve the more voters cast their ballots in the election.

Posted by at December 8, 2015 7:22 PM