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Concerns Mount As Iran Faces Rising Disillusionment Ahead Of Elections

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A seasoned pundit in Iran says the hardliners have sidelined reformists from Iran’s political landscape and are now trying to target three major conservative groups.

Reformist commentator Abbas Abdi believes that the ultraconservatives are working to marginalize traditional clerics, traditional conservatives, and the so-called neo-cons around Majles Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections in March.

He suggests that this plan to eliminate or, at the very least, silence these three conservative groups will contribute to greater inefficiency within the Iranian government. This inefficiency, in turn, is likely to lead to increased dissent and exacerbate the existing political impasse in Iran. Abdi argues that continued political purification will disrupt the current political balance, potentially reaching a point where conflicts and clashes become inevitable.

The prospect of facing political purification in Iran is taken very seriously in the country’s political circles. Even political heavyweight and senior member of the Expediency Council, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, who is running for the next parliament, expresses concerns about potential disqualification by the hardliner Guardian Council. He fears that despite his non-official position within the government, he could be eliminated from political participation. Bahonar also believes that the Guardian Council should consider endorsing the qualifications of reformist figures who oppose conservatives. Bahonar suggested that a politician such as former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif could be the leading figure of a list of reformist candidates.

Reformist commentator Abbas Abdi

In the 2020 parliamentary and 2021 presidential elections, the Council disqualified hundreds of candidates for no real reason, including top challengers of Ebrahim Raisi, who then glided into the presidency in a low-turnout vote.

According to Khabar Online website, Bahonar, although somewhat removed from everyday politics, still wields significant influence in the Iranian political landscape. There is talk of him contemplating the creation of an all-encompassing political party with members from across the political spectrum, even though he acknowledges the possibility that ultraconservatives might try to eliminate him from the political scene. He has suggested that figures like Javad Zarif and Ali Larijani could play leading roles for reformist and moderate conservative candidates.

Another member of the Expediency Council, Mohammad Sadr, criticized Iran’s hardliners who label themselves “revolutionaries” and questioned the meaning of being a revolutionary after a revolution. He referred to some hardliners who supported the controversial hijab bill as “possible infiltrators” and highlighted that the revolution has generated numerous challenges. Sadr emphasized that being a revolutionary should not be confused with being a radical.

He charged that “Many demands for which we took part in the revolution have not been met. These include the calls for freedom and justice.”

In another development, Entekhab news website quoted former President Hassan Rouhani as saying that “Many people have become disillusioned and turned their backs to the regime because they saw that some of the promises made by officials were baseless.” He insisted that in such a situation it is essential that political parties are allowed to be active and represent various groups of people.”