Iranian elections deal blow to hardliners as reformists make gains

Feb 29, 2016

Photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazl/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

By Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Ian Black

Hardliners in Iran have been dealt a humiliating blow after reformist-backed candidates in Friday’s hard-fought elections appeared on course for a sweeping victory in Tehran, with a combination of moderates and independents sympathetic to President Hassan Rouhani leading in provinces.

A coalition of candidates supported by the reformists, dubbed “the list of hope”, is likely to take all of the capital’s 30 parliamentary seats, according to the latest tally released by the interior ministry, in surprising results seen as a strong vote of confidence in Rouhani’s moderate agenda. Mohammad Reza Aref, a committed reformist who has a degree from Stanford University in the US, is at the top of the list.

Preliminary results for the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for appointing the next supreme leader, showed Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key Rouhani ally, leading the race. Elections to the assembly are usually a lacklustre event but have attracted huge attention this time because of the age of the current leader, 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei and Rafsanjani, a prominent pragmatist who was not allowed to run for president in 2013, have been at odds in recent years.

Results may not be finalised until Tuesday but if they tally with the initial figures there will be a palpable change in the Iranian political landscape with moderates dominating the scene and hardliners being pushed back to the fringes. Strong gains by supporters of Rouhani could help promote greater opening to the west by Iran and limit political advances by conservatives at home – and secure him a second term in office next year.

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13 comments on “Iranian elections deal blow to hardliners as reformists make gains

  • Cool story. On a side note I all ways think it’s funny to see how Iranian women have their hijabs pulled back as far as humanly possible without it quite falling off their heads.

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  • This allows we outsiders to see the people and their increasingly steadfast wishes for reform. Rohani’s “Green” Party was swept to “power” on originally an anti-corruption ticket. Lately Rohani has been forced to make some poor decisions (about medical education programs where Iran has been wonderfully western facing) to appease pressures from above. I hope this demonstration of popular intention re-invigorates the steady march to a modern Iran fueled by reason. Its what the people want.

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  • Mini skirts and itsy bitsy bikinis in the 60s, tiny hijabs now. The mullahs have to watch out, or the sexual revolution might do to them what it did to the churches and social order in the West, an age ago. Those were the days!

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  • As many as 20 women are expected to win parliamentary seats, a record for Iran.

    Excellent! This is how real substantial women’s rights are wrangled from the fists of oppressive theocrats. Establish the legal framework and then bring the public ethos around as fast as they can bear it. When their women and girls get back into the education pipeline and earn positions of prominence in law, politics, business and science then their momentum will carry them forward.

    Among them is the reformist candidate Parvaneh Salahshori, who said in a recent foreign media interview that women should have a choice to wear the hijab. The issue is a taboo subject in the Islamic Republic.

    We can work with this for a starting position. I hope that three generations hence, the young women of Iran look at pictures of their grandmothers wearing full hejab and all of its other varieties elsewhere and exhibit that same expression of incredulity that my daughters show when I tell them that the right to vote came in their great grandmother’s lifetime. I have discussed this event with both of my late grandmothers! The Pill was legalized in their grandmother’s lifetime and abortion was legalized in my lifetime. This is all very recent history and thanks to the feminists who fought for those rights tooth and nail. Feminists in this case includes both male and female feminists.

    When women gain equality rights then men benefit too!

    It’s a rough road ahead but this is a big step forward and done in a public way. So hopeful.

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  • bonnie

    From your link:

    Now, 24-year-old Haneefah Adam imagines a Barbie who wears hijabs.
    The Nigerian Master’s graduate has made modest outfits for the world’s best-selling doll, including a cheetah abaya and a plaid hijab.

    There are a number of new Barbie models that attempt to show some diversity. ~eye roll~ but this one in the link shows no sign of resembling a Nigerian woman in any way. As I sadly explain to my Algerian nieces, hejab is NOT their native dress nor is it native to Nigeria. It is a toxic import to these cultures. I would be happy to see a doll that actually looks like a Nigerian woman or Algerian woman or a woman from any culture at all but that doll that is being marketed by that “Nigerian Master’s Graduate” is going to make someone plenty of money and support insidious mind slavery.


    Bonnie, not saying you support this. Just venting. 😉

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  • @ #9 – Feral Cheryl

    According to the website, she is fashioned after “eco-warriors”, tongue-in-cheek.

    Yet, “her” motto “Live Simply, Run Wild“, I think will always resonate in real life, what’s not to like?!

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    Moderates and reformists have dealt another blow to Iran’s hardliners, winning all but one of the seats for Tehran in the Assembly of Experts.

    President Hassan Rouhani and his allies won 15 out of the capital’s 16 seats on the clerical body, which may choose the country’s next supreme leader.

    It will be interesting to see exactly what is a “clerical body”, which is “An Assembly of Experts”?

    Two leading hardline clerics, assembly chairman Mohammad Yazdi and Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, lost their seats.

    The only hardliner to make the cut in Friday’s polls was Ahmad Jannati.

    The vote for the 88-member Assembly of Experts was held on the same day as the country’s parliamentary elections, in which moderates and reformists won all 30 of Tehran’s seats.

    Let’s see how the numbers stack up over the whole country?

    Partial results from elsewhere in the country are mixed, with hardliners so far winning 153 seats in the 290-seat parliament and moderates and reformists 111.

    The final results of that vote are expected later on Monday.

    The new composition of the Assembly of Experts is seen as significant given that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 76 and has suffered ill-health.

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  • 13
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    This is excellent news. Quite refreshing from the daily horror and tragedy we see in the Middle East. It’s ironic to note that right now, the electoral process in a theocracy like Iran is showing more promise towards actual reform than the electoral process in the US primaries where the mainstream media and the DNC are largely biased in favor of the establishment candidate and strongly against the only real progressive candidate.

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