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Iran’s Reformists scramble to avert defeat in key polls

With only six months to go until Iran's crucial parliamentary elections, the country's Reform Movement is grappling with multiple crises and could lose its overwhelming majority to rival hard-liners.
Iranian former vice president and candidate for parliamentary election Mohammad Reza Aref and his wife show their ink-stained fingers after casting their ballots during elections for the parliament and Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, in Tehran February 26, 2016.  REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - GF10000324077

Iran's Reform Movement, which holds the parliamentary majority, was dealt a severe blow May 26. Ali Motahari, an independent candidate endorsed by the camp, lost the race for deputy speaker, a position he had firmly maintained for three consecutive years. The outspoken lawmaker, known for his ferocious attacks on hard-liners, failed to garner enough votes and was replaced by the conservative camp's candidate, Abdurreza Mesri. Mesri had served as minister for welfare in ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Cabinet from October 2006 to September 2009. 

Top Reformist figures largely blamed the defeat on Mohammad Reza Aref, leader of the “Hope” coalition of Reformist and centrist candidates for parliament. They accused him of being too passive during the campaign for parliament's presiding board. Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, secretary-general of the Executives of Construction Party — the Reform Movement's largest political group — was among the very first who took aim at Aref in a sarcastic tweet: "Thanks to the relentless efforts put forward by Mr. Aref and his entourage, Ali Motahari lost the deputy speaker post."

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