AFP: Iran’s reformists have drastically scaled down their expectations for parliamentary elections next month after the authorities disqualified half of their candidates, the press reported on Wednesday. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran’s reformists have drastically scaled down their expectations for parliamentary elections next month after the authorities disqualified half of their candidates, the press reported on Wednesday.
Reformists had been hoping to mount a serious challenge to the conservative dominance in parliament and create a springboard for returning to power in 2009 presidential elections.
But the spokesman for the umbrella coalition of reformist parties, Abdollah Nasseri, was quoted as saying that his forces had much lower expectations after the mass vetoing of candidates by interior ministry committees.
“We had concluded that we could compete in one-third of the 290 seats, but unfortunately… even under the best scenario we can now compete for only 10 percent of the seats,” he said.
The interior ministry in the first phase of the vetting process last month banned more than 2,000 mainly reformist candidates from standing in the March 14 elections, a move Nasseri has said applied to half of its prospective MPs.
In order to pass the vetting process candidates must meet a host of qualifications, one of which is sufficient loyalty to Iran’s Islamic system.
The final say over who can stand in the election lies with the hardline unelected vetting body the Guardians’ Council.
Ahead of the last elections in 2004, the Guardians’ Council banned more than 2,000 candidates, leading the way for the conservatives to seize control of parliament from the reformists.
But Nasseri, whose comments were published by most reformist newspapers, denied that reformists would encourage people to boycott the vote after the disqualification.
“Though dissatisfaction among the candidates remains, the reformist parties who are members of this coalition should furnish the ground for participation by the people to consolidate political and social participation,” he said.
Three leading rivals of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — former presidents Mohammad Khatami, a reformist, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative and former speaker Mehdi Karroubi — met last week to discuss how to lift the ban.
The reformist list is being strongly backed by Khatami and also includes members of Rafsanjani’s faction. However the independently minded Karroubi has also been running a separate reformist list.