Reformist Urges Continued Backing for Rouhani

Reformist Urges Continued Backing for Rouhani
Reformist Urges Continued Backing for Rouhani

A prominent reformist figure called on his fellows to continue lending their support to the centrist Hassan Rouhani, arguing that withdrawing reformist backing for the incumbent president would deal a fatal blow to the bloc's credibility.

Mohammad Salamati, a former lawmaker affiliated with Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution party, made the statement in a recent comprehensive interview with ISNA.

Rouhani has faced an online protest campaign after he submitted his proposed budget bill for the next fiscal year (March 2018-19) to parliament earlier this month.

The campaign is supported by critics expressing regret over voting for Rouhani in the May presidential election, in which the 69-year-old cleric managed to extend his mandate for another four years.

If parliament passes Rouhani's draft bill, Iranians will have to pay much more for fuel, and face the prospects of being cut off from monthly cash subsidy payments if they are not among the needy.

Moreover, there has been particular anger at a threefold proposed rise in departure taxes for those flying out of the country.

The government says the controversial articles in the bill will allow it to cover its huge budget deficit.

The protest campaign is endorsed by well-known media and sports celebrities, and even some reformist politicians.

Reformists, who are barely represented in Rouhani's second-term Cabinet, have grown more critical of his performance in recent months, complaining the administration is not doing enough to fulfill Rouhani's electoral pledges.

  Credibility at Stake

Salamati said reformists reached the decision to support Rouhani's presidential campaigns after extensive consultations, so it will be to their detriment to announce they should have not backed the incumbent president.

"People would no longer count on reformists if they announce they regret [backing Rouhani]."

"Reformists must remain committed to the people and admit they are [partly] responsible for the performance of the government [they helped come to power]," he said. The reformist bloc staged a dramatic comeback to the political scene in 2013, when their support for Rouhani was seen as indispensable to the pragmatic cleric' successful electoral bid.

They went to great lengths to assist Rouhani in securing the presidential seat, and even withdrew their candidate Mohammad Reza Aref to boost the cleric's chances of success.

The reformist camp was also central to Rouhani's landslide victory over his main principlist challenger Ebrahim Raeisi this year. Salamati said although he advocates continued support for Rouhani in his second term, he does not believe reformists should give up criticizing his policies.

"I, as a reformist, will support Rouhani until the end [of his term], but I will also raise my critique of his administration," he said, adding that members of the camp ought to make every effort to provide Rouhani with new insights and come up with solutions to ease the nation's woes.


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