Iranian elections: Three political lines
The four candidates in Iran's elections represent three political lines: right, center and left.
By Cihan Aktaş / Tehran, World Bulletin
It can be said that the candidates in the presidential elections which will take place in Iran two weeks later represent three political lines: the right, left and center.
The reformist candidates are Mir Hüseyin Musavi, who served two terms as prime minister during the war years, and Hüccetülislam Mehdi Kerrubi, parliament chairman during the reformist government terms. Conservative candidates are Mahmud Ahmedinejat, current president, and Former Revolution Guard commander, Muhsin Rızai.
The first reformist candidate to announce his candidacy was Muhammad Hatemi. When Mir Hüseyin Musavi announced his candidacy, Hatemi, who indicated that he had unwillingly entered the elections due to pressure from his supporters, withdrew his candidacy in support of Musavi.
The presidential elections have offered an opportunity for reformists to institutionalize the political lines that have emerged among them during their four years in the opposition. Seen as more or less compatible for the last eight years, at present the reformists appear to be in two political lines.
The left reformist group supports the National Trust Party and the party's founder Hüccetülislam Mehdi Kerrubi. It is expected that Kerrubi will get the votes of three groups. The party's publications organ, the National Trust newspaper, has brought together intellectuals like journalist Cemile Kediver, Hatemi's minister, Ataullah Muhacarani, and reformist newspapers' chief columnists Abbas Abdi, Shamsilvaizin, Imadeddin Baki and Guchani who gathered around Hatemi in the past. Abdulkerim Surush announced that he also supported Kerrubi. Known as one of Hatemi's right-hand mullahs, Ebtahi also took his place beside Kerrubi.
According to Surush, Kerrubi is a politician who can make serious advances in the subject of needed democratization within Iran's conditions. On the other hand, although he has been removed from politics for twenty years, Musavi does not convey confidence that he can produce the politics the society needs. With debatable success in his accomplishments twenty years ago, Musavi is not even included among the religious intellectuals who are theoreticians of the reformist movement. Surush is of the opinion that Musavi is in essence a politician who is twenty years behind the times and who is not equipped to respond to the current needs of the reformist movement.
These claims of Surush were answered by sociologist Hamid Riza Celayipor who supports Musavi. According to Celayipor, among the reformist candidates only Musavi has a chance to win as both a religious intellectual and a man of action against Ahmedinejat who has entered the elections using all the advantages of being in the government. In addition, Musavi has not been completely removed from politics in the last twenty years; he served as Hatemi's adviser in reformist governments.
Joining the debate, journalist Shamsilvaizin emphasized that instead of the reformist intellectuals consuming each other's energy, it is more important for them to concentrate on increasing the people's level of participation in the elections.
It can be said that the reformists supporting Mir Huseyin Musavi are "leftists" closer to the center. In fact, it is frequently emphasized that Musavi is first of all a reformist and then a traditionalist in the sense of his ties to the principles of the revolution. Intellectuals like reformist theoretician Haccaryan, sociologist Hamid Riza Celayipor, and Behzat Nebevi and Muhsin Armin, members of the Islamic Revolution Fighters who became prominent with their sharp criticisms aimed at the conservative segment of the reformist groups, Rafsancani, Zibakelam, the Musharekat Party, the Struggling Religious Mens Group, the Development Party, an important part of the National-Religious group, and followers of Hatemi support Musavi. In addition to these, famous novelist Mahmut Devletabadi, who is among the intellectuals who have acted prudently in regard to the topic of participating in the religious revolution regime, also supports Musavi.
While both reformist candidates are making promises in the elections regarding freedom of the press and the area of economics, it appears that the goal of changing conditions that restrict freedoms in the country and curtail the participation of the people is also being underscored. Kerrubi frequently indicates in his election speeches that he will give cabinet positions to female ministers and that he will do his best on the subject of adequate representation of ethnic groups.
In a speech Musavi made during the days when he was announcing his candidacy, he stated that he would cancel the position of veiling guards who supervise women's dress. Another topic that Musavi emphasizes is reforms to be made in the legal body.
On the right there are two candidates: Ahmedinejat who is currently president and Muhsin Rizai, former commander of the Revolution Guards. If one lends an ear to gossip, Rizai is entering the elections, with the encouragement of Rafsancani, to divide votes that would go to Ahmedinejat. Not possessing strong support, Rizai is being introduced first as a conservative and then as a reformist politician.
It is widely thought that the candidacy of Ahmedinejat, who is subject to criticism for his populist policies, his economic management in particular, is reluctantly supported by many conservative groups. Conservatives are worried by the entrance in the elections of Musavi who has public support and a background of being a true son of the revolution, a point which no one can criticize. Some important personalities from the conservatives support Musavi like Teheran's mayor Galibaf. Consequently, Musavi's political line is one that calls in a segment of the conservatives as much as it does reformists.
Regardless of how much he says, "I am the real representative of conservative trends," Rizai's candidacy appears to be only for show. Comprised of traditionalists and fundamentalists, the conservatives prefer to support Ahmedinejat who they believe possesses an important electoral mass.
The concurrence in regard to Ahmedinejat on the part of the right wing, the political line of which respects the sovereignty of the people at one extreme, but which gives the impression of not believing in the people's right to vote at the other extreme, is interpreted as an expression of their ability to unite against the reformist candidates of the conservatives rather than as a meeting of different tendencies.