Reformist Election Plan to Counter Principlist Strategy

Mohammad Ali VakiliMohammad Ali Vakili

A pro-reform lawmaker said the rival camp of principlists will field multiple candidates in the May 19 presidential election in the hope of taking the vote to the second round and reformists need to use a similar tactic to thwart this strategy.

To neutralize the plan, “reformists should field a new candidate alongside [President Hassan] Rouhani for any principlist candidate who enters the race,” Mohammad Ali Vakili told ISNA on Saturday. Vakili said he believes principlists will not be as divided as in previous polls, having identified internal divisions as the source of their defeat in the 2013 presidential election.

“Their goal is to take the vote to the second round to increase their chances of winning the contest. In fact, they want to have several options so they can wage an all-out attack on Rouhani. Any candidate who can make its way to the second round will be the final option,” he said.

The leading candidate in the presidential race needs an overall majority of the ballots to avoid a runoff.  

With slightly over two months left to the upcoming presidential votes, many principlists are still weighing options for posing a real challenge to Rouhani’s reelection bid.  

Rouhani has been quiet on his reelection bid, but a senior government official said last month that he has decided to seek an extension of his first term.

The reformist camp is apparently unanimous over backing Rouhani.

Several principlist figures have announced so far that they will sign up for the next presidential poll.

This a while a new principlist bloc, the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, was founded late December comprising figures from across the principlist spectrum.

It held its first assembly last week and is currently making a shortlist of 10 options to put them up for a vote at the front’s second national assembly in late March or early April to pick a final candidate to face Rouhani.

Iran’s economic woes will likely be the core issue of this election, as Rouhani’s rivals believe the removal of nuclear sanctions under the July 2015 nuclear deal with world powers has not delivered benefits the incumbent president promised during his 2013 electoral campaign.


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