New Front Names Top Electoral Candidate

New Front Names Top Electoral Candidate
New Front Names Top Electoral Candidate

A senior lawmaker, Ali Motahhari, leads the list of candidates for the Independents and Moderates Front for the February parliamentary elections.

Esmaeil Ebrahimi, secretary of the front, said after a meeting of the front, which consists of 38 parties, and hours of discussions, the members decided to select Motahhari as the top candidate, IRNA reported on Saturday.

Iranians are scheduled to concurrently cast their votes in the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections on February 26, 2016.

He said the front is willing to issue a joint nationwide list with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, a hopeful for the upcoming Majlis elections.

Larijani, a prominent politician widely known to be a principlist, has refused to join the coalition of principlists, because of his disagreement with the fierce opponents of the nuclear deal (between Iran and world major powers) who constitute a substantial section of the coalition.

Larijani has announced that he will run for the elections as an independent candidate.

Ebrahimi said the meeting was aimed at having consultations on choosing candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections.

Assembly of Experts is a clerical body tasked with supervising the Leader's performance and selecting a successor.

Qodratali Heshmatian, the chairman of the front, said the front has not arrived at a consensus over the top candidate for the assembly elections yet.

"President Hassan Rouhani, Chairman of Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hojjatoleslam Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of the late founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi are among prominent figures who have announced their participation in the the Assembly of Experts elections as an independent candidate and will be on the list of the front," he said.

Heshmatian said the list of the front's candidates will be issued after the Guardians Council, a body tasked with supervising the election and vetting candidates, introduces qualified candidates on February 16, 2016.

  Principlists Close Ranks

Secretary-General of Islamic Coalition Party Mohammad Nabi Habibi said the top candidates of principlists' coalition for Majlis and Assembly of Experts elections have not been named yet.

He said a special committee has been formed to propose nominees who have the potential to be the top candidates in a single list of all principlist parties.

Habibi said members have reached "a good compromise" on suitable candidates in many provinces, while expressing optimism about a joint list in Tehran.

"If all principlist parties release one nationwide list of candidates, they would win the elections," Habibi said.

  Reformists Striving for Consensus

Mohammad Reza Aref, the former vice president and head of Reformists' Policymaking Council, said on Wednesday the reformists need to reach a strong consensus and no reformist party should be ignored. Speaking in a meeting of the reformist factions held in preparation for the elections, Aref said the reformist front considers national interests to be more important than partisan interest.

He said reformists have committed themselves to comply with electoral regulations, while they expect election officials not to give some candidates a discriminatory treatment.

Aref said the reformist front will announce their plans in the next one or two weeks to have the majority in the next Majlis elections.

"We aim to help hold popular elections and have a minimum of 75% voter turnout," he said.

With the registration of 12,123 candidates, a new participation record for parliamentary elections in Iran's history has been set, while the number of senior clerics who registered for the fifth Assembly of Experts election also hit an all-time record.

Interior Ministry started the preliminary vetting process of candidates on Saturday, which will continue until January 4.