In the parliamentary elections in Iran Friday, reformers and moderate allies who support President Hassan Rohani sharply higher against the Conservatives. What will be the consequences on the domestic front?
Denis Bauchard: election results as that of the Experts Assembly is a clear victory for President Rohani. The advance of the reformist camp who would get 91 seats in the Majles was made possible through the alliance “Hope, Serenity, Economic Prosperity” concluded with moderate conservatives. His success in Tehran where it all elected is emblematic in this respect. This result should enable it to better establish its authority and in particular to push through the necessary economic reforms. But it is a relative success. Indeed the camp of “Fundamentalist” got 96 seats and there are also 25 MPs “independent.” Furthermore it should be noted that these results are not final, as there is still 52 seats in the ballot, the 2é turn to intervene in a few weeks. Finally, this alliance is not a party to vote with discipline and it is not certain that all subjects the President can rely on the Majlis. But it should be more cooperative than the previous
As for the Assembly of Experts,
it is also successful: Some ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi particular, former chairman of the meeting and Mohammad Taki Mesbah were beaten while former President Rohani and Rasfandjani itself was brilliantly re-elected. However, it should wait for the election of the future president of this assembly to judge the balance of power in this place between ultra-conservatives and reformers.
In fact in those two meetings, the cleavage is rather between the “pragmatists” who rely more on urban voters and “ideologues” who are strong in the poor and rural Iran. This confrontation is far from over. It also adds a disagreement on the role and powers of the Guide, including some religious, some of whom want the Guide has a general policy role or are hostile to the velayat-e faqih.
The consequences for domestic policy should therefore strengthen the authority and discretion of the President Rohani. But he will continue to face an opposition that will remain aggressive and determined, ultra-conservatives. We must not forget that the supreme power belongs to Imam Khamenei and several sensitive areas – internal security, army, justice – report directly to him. The Guide has until now relied on Rohani, but must take into account the concerns of other stakeholders in the Iranian political life, including the Revolutionary Guards.
Thus, it is unlikely that the conservative camp waives make its influence felt, particularly in the area of civil liberties.
How will react the ultra-conservative camp?
Probably the most conservative elements will react strongly to the results of these elections. The conservative press, including the daily Kayhan refuses to recognize also this relative defeat, dispute the figures assigned to different movements and proclaims instead that “the victory clearly belongs to the Fundamentalists.” An editorial in the same paper stresses that “Iran is not limited to Tehran.”
Thus, it is unlikely that the conservative camp waives make its influence felt, particularly in the area of civil liberties. This area, on which the President Rohani had little control, may continue to be locked, despite the rejection of part of the population, especially the young, against the weight of the system. In fact the Guide may be required to arbitrate between the different currents that oppose. It is not certain that the camp of the reformers come out winners, Imam Khamenei careful to keep a balance within a system of government that remains opaque. The fight can move within the meeting of experts, which, in its new composition set for 8 years, will have to decide on replacing Khamenei.
Externally, the building sites initiated by President Rohani is to find they strengthened?
The first concern of the President is to ensure that the sanctions lifted process is going well. He is aware that it may be challenged by a hostile Congress to President Obama, or even by (the) new president to be elected in the fall of 2016. Initiatives can still be taken at the Congress to disrupt good place for this lifting, for example by voting for new sanctions against Iran because of developing its missile program. He also knows that all US sanctions, those relating to human rights or the fight against terrorism, are lifted. He also knows that the risks of an extensive application by the US court of extraterritorial laws exist: such a prospect may deter foreign companies, including banks from engaging too active in Iran.
But he knows, conversely, that the direction set by the Guide, which refuses any normalization in general in relations with the United States, is a red line that can be crossed. He will need all his ability and that of his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, to navigate these obstacles. It shall in particular, as he has already done, clearing any provocative initiative elements hostile to its policies against US interests, such as an incident in the Persian Gulf or the arrest of a dual American-Iranian national.
The president’s ability to influence the foreign policy of Iran, assuming he likes it, will remain marginal. The fundamental objectives of the Iranian diplomacy, particularly in the Middle East are clear: to ensure its security and its ambitions in the Persian Gulf; defend against Sunni jihadist groups, notably the Islamic state; strengthen the strategic alliance with the Syrian regime; strengthen and expand its influence in Iraq; counter hostile foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. However, it still has room for maneuver that could occur on the Syrian file, which is probably a major source of concern for Tehran.
Original article published by Le Figaro
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