Rouhani Ensured of Solid Reformist Backing

Rouhani Ensured of Solid Reformist BackingRouhani Ensured of Solid Reformist Backing

The head of Reformist Policymaking Council reiterated the solid support of the pro-reform camp for the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani's candidacy in the next month's elections, urging a high turnout to create what he called "a lasting epic".

Mohammad Reza Aref, a prominent reformist who competed in the previous presidential polls, made the remarks on Thursday addressing members of Islamic Association of Students of Tehran University, IRNA reported.

Pointing to "people's trust" as reformists' main asset, he said, "Today, the main capital of the reform movement is people's confidence, and in case people do not have a broad participation in the polls, there will not remain any hope for [presidential] victory."

Across their spectrum, reformists have rallied behind Rouhani's reelection bid.

The camp had also backed Rouhani in the 2013 presidential votes, where the last-minute withdrawal of Aref played a crucial role in his victory in a single round with over 50% of the ballot.

Aref called on key pro-reforms figures to encourage people to take part in the polls. Rouhani's chances of winning the race are considered high, as none of his predecessors has failed in their reelection attempts to reach the limit of eight years of consecutive presidency.

However, Rouhani could face a stiffer challenge this time if conservative rivals, one of the major political camps in Iran, unite against him.

The conservatives have made considerable efforts to close ranks and field a single nominee with the hope of increasing their chances of winning the race. Although several principlist hopefuls have so far registered to run for president, their alliance is not improbable.

Registration for the presidential elections started last Tuesday for a five-day period, after which the nominees' political and Islamic qualifications will be screened by a vetting body, the Guardians Council.

The main prospective rival to Rouhani's reelection bid is Ebrahim Raeisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) and former prosecutor general, while other high-profile politicians who have registered include Mostafa Mirsalim, a member of Islamic Coalition Party, and Hamid Baqaei, a former vice president under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad has also submitted his name for the race.

The presidential votes will be held on May 19 along with city council and midterm parliamentary polls.


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