TEHRAN, Iran — Whenever Iran is about to hold an election, the country’s two main political camps — conservatives and Reformists — start asking their most prominent figures to step forward and assume leadership. With parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections due in February 2016, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri is once again in the spotlight.
Nategh-Nuri is currently the head of the supreme leader's inspection office. In the past, he has served as parliament Speaker, among other prominent duties, reflecting his position as one of the most respected and influential figures in the conservative camp. In the 1997 presidential election, Nategh-Nuri was defeated by Mohammad Khatami — then a lesser-known Reformist figure — stunning many political observers. Following Khatami’s victory, the conservative leadership was put on Nategh-Nuri’s shoulders, who tried his best to provide direction amid a critical turning point. In Nategh-Nuri’s telling, his efforts culminated in the conservative victory in the Islamic Republic’s first city council elections in 1999, and also the 2004 parliamentary vote. Yet, despite the growing calls for Nategh-Nuri to directly enter the fray at that time, he steered clear of personally contesting any vote.