Lawmaker: Rouhani’s Reelection Faces Tough Challenge

Massoud PezeshkianMassoud Pezeshkian

The prospect of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani's reelection in the upcoming votes is dimmed by the widespread perception of his government's poor performance and differences among his supporters, a reformist lawmaker said.

"Rouhani faces no easy task because on the one hand the blame for many problems of the country is laid at the government's door and on the other, there are internal differences among his backers," First Deputy Parliament Speaker Massoud Pezeshkian also said in an interview with ICANA on Sunday.

Vice President Hossein Ali Amiri announced Rouhani's decision to enter the election race in late February.

Iranian presidents are elected to a four-year term that is restricted to eight consecutive years.

Moderate Rouhani has already secured the support of the reformist camp whose candidate in the 2013 votes, Mohammad Reza Aref, played an effective role in his victory by withdrawing in his favor on the eve of the elections.

Pezeshkian, who also served as health minister between 2001 and 2005, said the Rouhani government needs to clarify the root source of the country's woes, if it is to absolve itself of the blame.

"This weak point [accusations of inefficiency] can end up playing out in Rouhani's favor to ensure his success [in the election], if his team honestly explains to the people why the government has failed to perform successfully in some domains and sheds light on the obstacles," he said.

Rouhani's conservative rivals have repeatedly criticized his economic record in recent weeks. Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said the government's economic policies have fallen short and has stressed the need to focus on a national economic plan to create jobs.

The plan, dubbed Resistance Economy, is aimed at boosting self-sufficiency by promoting domestic production and weaning the country off oil revenues.

"I feel the pain of the poor and lower class people with my soul, especially because of high prices, unemployment and inequalities," the Leader said in his message to mark the Iranian New Year, which started on March 21.

"The government has taken positive steps but they do not meet people's expectations and mine."

Pezeshkian stressed that Rouhani's candor with the electorate can help him deal with the mounting criticism of his economic record, which is the government's Achilles heel, and turn the tide in his favor.

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