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Aref: Reformists’ Popular Base a Boon to Nation
National

Aref: Reformists’ Popular Base a Boon to Nation

A prominent reformist said the ability of his camp to draw in millions, especially the youth, is something that must be safeguarded as it would benefit the country in the long run.
"The reformist movement enjoys a strong social base that could even attract the undecided people in [political] campaigns," Mohammad Reza Aref also said in a recent talk with IRNA.
"The rival camp [of principlists] lacks this ability to mobilize the youth," he said.
Describing people as "the main asset of the establishment", he said reformists' political activities not only benefit the country but also the rival camp, as it increases people's participation in elections and gives a stronger mandate to a politician.
In Iran's political landscape, politicians are usually divided into two main groupings, namely conservatives and reformists, with moderates close to President Hassan Rouhani, leaning to the latter.
The support by reformists has been instrumental in the moderate Rouhani's victories in the two last presidential polls. They could also garner many seats in the latest parliamentary elections in 2016, although short of having an outright majority.
Reformists experienced a fallow period after the 2008 parliamentary elections when some of them decided not to run and some were disqualified by the Guardians Council, which is in charge of vetting candidates applying to run for elections.
The discontent of the reformist camp and the controversial reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 led to public dissatisfaction, which was compounded by years of harsh sanctions and mismanagement.
***Reformist Resurgence
The reformist camp, however, staged a dramatic comeback by throwing their weight behind Rouhani in the 2013 presidential election, helping him to emerge victorious. Their parliamentary election victory in 2016 was even rosier when they swept all the 30 seats in the Tehran constituency.
In an attempt to assert itself on the political stage, the camp decided to go all alone in city councils elections in May, eventually ending the 12-year reign of conservatives over Tehran Municipality.
Buoyed by the Tehran City Council victory, Aref announced in September that his camp would probably not forge any alliance with moderates in the next parliamentary and presidential elections.
Aref called on reformists to take advantage of their absolute majorities in Tehran, both in the Majlis and city council, to prove that the camp is capable of overcoming the problems facing the city and, on the whole, the country.
"There has never been a time [in Tehran] when the city council, the mayor, members of parliament and the governor have all been from the same camp," Aref said, adding that "this is a historic opportunity for reformists. Certainly, our good performance can result in more success in the next elections."
Tehran, a city with a population of more than 13 million people, plays a crucial role in any election, especially in the presidential election. In addition, lawmakers hailing from the metropolitan are better positioned to pull strings compared with their colleagues from other constituencies.

  High Time for Entry of Youth, Women
Aref said the old managers, some in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, should be replaced by energetic and lively younger managers.
"We even expect the motivated youth to be present in the next round of presidential elections," he said.
He criticized Rouhani for his Cabinet of aged ministers, saying that "unfortunately, young people were pushed to the sidelines for what had been described as avoiding trial and error."
Failure to include women and the youth in his Cabinet was one of the major issues over which Rouhani was criticized in his first term in office, with his Cabinet's average age being around 58.
In his second term, however, he appointed Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, a 35-year-old engineer and by far the youngest addition, as minister of information and communications technology, but even with his appointment the average age of the Cabinet remains almost as old as the first one.
"In my talks with ministers, I have reminded them of the need to pick young people, women and people belonging to the minorities in their ministries," Aref said.
"The presence of young people in managerial posts in the country needs to become widespread."

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