Reformists Determined to Win Majlis Vote

Reformists Determined to Win Majlis Vote Reformists Determined to Win Majlis Vote

Reformists do not feel disillusioned after the disqualification of a majority of their popular figures from running in the parliamentary election, expected in weeks, and they plan to field promising young members instead, a top reformist said.  

"The mass exclusions should not discourage us and we should turn to fresh, elite faces deserving to join the list [of reformists]," Mohammad Reza Aref was quoted as saying by IRNA, in an address to a conference on youth and elections in Tehran on Monday.

The initial ruling by the Guardians Council, an election vetting body, to reject an overwhelming number of registered reformist candidates among many others met with strong criticism.

Even the body's decision to allow some 1,500 candidates back on the ballot after considering their appeals has not appeased the reformist camp.

"Reformism is grounded in the values of the [1979 Islamic] Revolution and we will never turn away from the establishment … We should take part in the election contest under any circumstances," Aref said.

"Do not allow the imposed restrictions to stop you and stand firm to frustrate the attempts to demotivate you."

Aref, who is also a former vice president, noted that in the countdown to the February 26 election, it is important to persuade the public to go to the polls.

"The people should participate in the vote. The country needs peoples' participation," he said.

Reformists are closely allied to incumbent moderate President Hassan Rouhani and Aref bolstered him in the 2013 presidential election by withdrawing his candidacy.

Rouhani championed the long-running negotiations with major powers leading to the July 14 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The action plan went into effect on Jan. 16 to scale down Tehran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. Aref said the government needs popular support to continue on its successful path and tap into the full potential of the deal in the absence of "cruel" economic sanctions.

"Our rivals have been trying to undermine us through all platforms, on which they hold a monopoly. They have even made it hard for us to book halls for electoral events," he said.

"However, their attempts have proved counterproductive by raising our popularity."