While Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei says he wants a high-turnout election in March, his followers show no intention to give a fair chance to their rivals, the Reformists.

In recent days, several politicians have suggested that the Reformists, who have been cut out the previous two elections, should nevertheless urge the apathetic voters to go to the polls.

Reformist groups feel the call for their participation is meaningless as nearly all their well-known candidates have been already disqualified by the Interior Ministry in the first round of a non-democratic vetting scheme. While the interior ministry can disqualify any person without offering a convincing reason, the Guardian Council takes a second stab and can equally disqualify more candidates.

Former lawmaker Morteza Alviri, a Reformist politician, told Khabar Online that key Reformist politicians such as former President Mohammad Khatami, Former Public Prosecutor Mohammad Khoiniha and former Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri’s silence about the elections is in fact their protest action against the current situation.

Alviri, who served in parliament twice in the 1980s, explained that many prominent Reformist figures are reluctant to register their candidacy due to skepticism about the biased vetting system controlled by ultraconservatives. He added that the exclusion of Reformists in recent elections has left them disheartened. Despite Khamenei’s call for political participation, Alviri believes that any Reformist who advocates for it risks damaging their reputation.

What Alviri did not mention is that, while Khamenei mildly criticized the Interior Ministry for disqualifying Reformist figures like the current MP for Tabriz, Massoud Pezeshkian, he refrained from advising the Guardian Council to approve the qualifications of any remaining Reformist candidates. This is likely because there are no significant Reformist candidates left for the Guardian Council to vet.

Other pro-reform political figures, such as Mohsen Hashemi, who say they are waiting for the Guardian Council’s decision, belong to centrist parties such as the Executives of Construction.

These parties were not that popular with voters in the previous elections when they won less than 3 percent of the votes and the previous Presidential elections in which their members and supporters refused to work for the party’s candidate former Central bank Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati. The former leader of the Executives of Construction Party Hossein Marashi has told the press that it was a mistake not to vote for Hemmati. it was a mistake that led to a major defeat for the party.”

Some moderate figures such as former President Hassan Rouhani have said that if the majority of the people refuse to take part in the upcoming elections, that would be a great gift to hardliners who currently control the government and the parliament. However, Rouhani who appears to be heeding Khamenei’s call for advocating participation, is said not to have enough suitable people around him to fill the list of 30 candidates for Tehran. His party members said he might give a list of only 16 moderate politicians.

Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami in previous years played a key role in encouraging the people to go to vote, but as Alviri has pointed out, the people are no longer so naïve as to listen to such advice. Khatami who is also sulking with the regime that has ignored him for so many years, is now even questioning the regime’s legitimacy. He said in a recent statement to a women’s human rights gathering in Tehran: “A political regime can be justified only when it can be reformed, and that is when it respects human dignity and gender equality.”

Source » iranintl