President Hassan Rouhani scheduled a press conference Jan. 17 to herald a new era in Iran by announcing the lifting of international sanctions that were put into place over the country's nuclear program. Rouhani took nearly two years to fulfill perhaps his most important campaign promise of delivering a nuclear deal and easing the economic pressure on Iranian citizens. However, during the press conference, the president was forced to address another campaign promise that is currently hanging in the balance: the opening of the political climate in the country.
The day before Rouhani’s press conference, Iranian television, quoting the Guardian Council, which is tasked with vetting candidates to run in the elections, reported that more than half of the record number of 12,000 candidates to register in the parliamentary elections had not been qualified to run. Many of the candidates disqualified came from the Reformist and moderate camps, two groups that would have been allied with the president in creating a more open political climate in the country.