Rift in Moderate-Reformist Alliance Detrimental

Rift in Moderate-Reformist Alliance DetrimentalRift in Moderate-Reformist Alliance Detrimental

A lawmaker called on reformists not to break up their broad alliance with moderates for future elections, saying that any division would deepen polarization in the country.

"The alliance forged between reformists and moderates in the last two presidential victories by Rouhani … was welcomed by the people and its breakup would be to the detriment of the country," ISNA also quoted Jalil Rahimi as saying in a recent talk.

President Hassan Rouhani won his last two elections mostly on a platform of moderation, through which he could attract many pro-reform voters. Prominent reformist figure Mohammad Reza Aref has recently said his camp would not form any coalition for the parliamentary election in 2019.

In Iran's political landscape, politicians are usually divided into two main camps, namely conservatives and reformists, with moderates close to President Hassan Rouhani leaning toward reformists. Some traditional conservatives also opted for a de facto alliance with moderates to counter staunch conservatives, who were opposed to Rouhani's 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In the last round of Majlis elections in 2015, the moderate-reformist alliance, called the Hope list, gained a majority of seats, dethroning the conservatives, although no faction now holds an absolute majority in the current 290-member chamber due to shifting alignments. Reformists, who claim many voted for the alliance because of popular pro-reform aspirations, have since been dissatisfied with the coalition, asserting that the moderate camp does not adequately accommodate their demands.

"After the elections, some who were included in the Hope list did not join the Hope faction in the Majlis," Aref said.

In the last city council elections in May, reformists did not enter into alliances with other factions, but could still sweep all the seats in Tehran and did well in other major cities. The resounding victory was particularly evident in the capital where all conservatives occupying the council for more than 12 years were replaced by reformists.

  Real Showdown

The conservatives also secured seats, especially in small towns where they enjoy a more popular base. The only group left reeling was the moderate faction that had a lackluster performance in the elections, a fact that many believe indicates that at the end of the day, the battle in Iranian politics is always between the conservatives and reformists.

The landslide victory of reformists in the city council has reinforced support for an all-reformist list to be fielded in future elections. However, some observers doubt reformists can pull off the same victory in the next Majlis elections, where the popular base of candidates as well as the support of outstanding figures would be crucial to any victory. Jalili said the prospect of reformists not forging any alliance in the next parliamentary election would chip away their clout, which would be detrimental to the country.

"Not only this alliance must not be broken up, but it has to be shored up by asking other center-leaning reformists to join the bloc," the parliamentarian said.

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