Iran’s Election Season Unveils Power Struggles

With Iran’s election season rapidly approaching, the customary debates about the significance of participation, the potential candidates themselves, and the candidate screening process are bubbling up again. Conservatives allied with the current administration allude to a notable achievement: the establishment of nationwide centers tasked with enforcing the Constitution, offering citizens a platform to voice their concerns by filing complaints. Meanwhile, others are once again advocating for “military leaders”—the likes of the late Qasem Soleimani or Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

Among those whose eligibility is under scrutiny is former president Hasan Rouhani. While some view his possible disqualification as a political opportunity for him, such a development raises concerns about its impact on the political landscape and the government. Some argue that the conservative movement’s emphasis on “purification” may lead to further alienation of the public, potentially causing unrest. One outlet writes that Rouhani’s candidacy, whether approved or rejected, has broader implications, and the political calculations surrounding it seem to lack precision. Meanwhile, the mercurial commentator Abdolreza Davari, who favors a technocratic government, is once again advocating for a “military president” in which the name of current Majles Speaker Qalibaf is mentioned alongside the late General Soleimani. According to reformist outlet E’temad, ongoing conflicts between the Ra’isi administration and the Judiciary, despite the initial aim of consolidating power for growth and progress, have led to contradictions and confrontations within decision-making entities. The situation, evident in disputes involving outlets affiliated with the three government branches, highlights the failure of the power consolidation concept. Recent clashes over the hijab and chastity bill underscore the deepening divisions among these influential entities, challenging the anticipated benefits of a unified power structure. This discord is surfacing more intensely in the lead-up to the elections, emphasizing the need for recognizing the importance of diversity in managerial structures and decision-making systems.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Dehqan-Noqondar, President Ebrahim Ra’isi’s deputy for legal affairs and a former manager of Qalibaf’s 2017 presidential campaign, has stressed the Constitution’s central role in Iran’s progress. He underscored the significance of nationwide centers serving as platforms for citizens to express concerns and contributing to the implementation of constitutional principles. This raises a question about which constitutional principles the administration considers worthy of emphasis, which would provide a nuanced indication of the evolving political dynamics. The upcoming elections bear significant implications for domestic politics, which will also find reflection on the international front.


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