Due to changing allegiances and loose alliances, there has been some confusion as to how to label the parliamentary elections. Reformists have been in a celebratory mood since the Feb. 26 elections. Conservative media, on the other hand, have tallied votes in a manner that shows them having an edge.
According to Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the country’s next parliament can be divided into three factions: Reformists, moderates and conservatives (Principlists). By comparison, Rahmani Fazli said the outgoing parliament can mostly be divided among two conservative groups. Although he did not say this, many observers believe the current parliament is dominated by traditional conservatives and hard-liners, who are often referred to as "Principlists" in most Iranian media. Rahmani Fazli added that the runoff elections for the remaining 69 seats will be to the advantage of one side.
Rahmani Fazli said that conservatives had more time to organize and that Reformists, with many of them disqualified, had little name recognition and had to rely on party lists. Many observers believe the ability of Reformists to sweep Tehran’s parliament was due to former President Mohammad Khatami’s video message asking Iranians to vote for the Reformist list. During a television interview, Ali Motahari, a traditional conservative who ran on the Reformist list, said that banning Khatami from state media has been ineffective and everyone saw how influential he was.
Rahmanim Fazli also said that many of the polls conducted turned out to be wrong. He said that even polls conducted by the Interior Ministry failed to take many factors into account. He believes that social media and social messaging services played a large part in shaping public opinion.
When asked why Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, who led the conservative list for Tehran, failed to make it into parliament when early results showed him to be in seventh place, Rahmani Fazli said that it simply had to do with the location of ballot boxes and in what order they were counted. Haddad-Adel’s loss has been a blow to many hard-liners. He did not make the cut, ranking 31st while only 30 seats are allotted for Tehran. He has been in parliament since 2000. When asked by reporters if he would contest the outcome, Haddad-Adel said he had “still not made a decision to protest the election results for parliament.”
Rahmani Fazli said that the Interior Ministry is currently in talks with the Guardian Council to introduce electronic voting stations for the runoff elections. He said this would eliminate human errors and lower the costs for carrying out the balloting. In Tehran, for instance, voters had to write out the names of 30 candidates for parliament and 16 names for the Assembly of Experts by hand.
As has been reported, women were able to more than double their numbers in this parliament to at least 22. More significantly, many of the women belong to the Reformist list. After the elections, a video interview of Parvaneh Salahshouri, one of the Reformist candidates to win in Tehran, surfaced in English in which she reportedly questioned the mandatory hijab laws.
After those comments went viral on social media, Salahshouri spoke to the Iranian Students’ News Agency to clarify her “strong displeasure” at how the original report was presented. Salahshouri said that the only distinction she made was that some women might prefer to wear the black chador while others would prefer a headscarf and long coat. Salahshouri’s immediate correction and decision to walk back her original reported comments perhaps indicates that the Reformists in the next parliament will have an uphill battle if they intend to question the country’s social and cultural policies.
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