Lessons and Opportunities Resulting from Iran's Elections

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hassan Beheshtipour
Expert on International Issues

In reality, the important message that results of recent elections in Iran have sent to the world, is focused on two important issues. Firstly, the establishment of the Islamic Republic depends on people and shows respect for turnover of elites in taking charge of state positions while holding them accountable before people. And secondly, Iran is bent on continuing interaction with the world while maintaining the values of its revolution and Islam. The following article enumerates 12 basic messages of these elections:

1. We must accept that holding such vibrant and competitive elections despite disqualification of some outstanding candidates in Tehran was, per se, a sign of the national power and political development in the Iranian society. Paying attention to this point is of basic importance for holding an election with a high level of security and under a competitive atmosphere with the least degree of election violations.

2. The returns of these elections are indicative of the reality that the political system in Iran is, on the whole, dependent on the public votes and while seeking popular and Islamic legitimacy, puts the highest emphasis on free turnover of elites at the highest level and provides executive mechanism for this purpose.

3. If the results of Tehran elections for both assemblies are taken into consideration, it becomes clear that people in the capital city have voted for entire lists. This coordinated measure not only boosts social solidarity, but has also promoted peaceful competition through ballot boxes in Iran and will probably continue to do this in the future. In fact, most people have correctly understood that their votes will be counted and will have an effect as well.

4. The awareness of people in Tehran about the true nature of issues that were raised through media rivalries and their understanding of the difference between such propaganda and realities of election campaigns finally caused the majority of Tehran’s people to vote for a list, which had been naively accused by its rivals of being affiliated to Britain. This shows that the people of Tehran are too smart to be deceived by media ballyhoo, whether it is cooked up in London or in Tehran.

5. Most Iranian people have been opposed to foreign interventions in their internal affairs throughout their history and disapprove of any kind of dependence on other countries, especially if those countries happen to have colonialistic backgrounds. This is especially true if someone was accused of being affiliated to the British government, in which case, they would not have any base among people. However, it is clear that any country can take advantage of its media outlets in order to influence the public opinion inside or outside its borders. This influence is never taken as intervention in the internal affairs of a country. If this was the case, when a country is holding elections, all foreign media must remain silent on this issue or, at least, refrain from saying anything about outstanding candidates. After many years of working with the world service media of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), I have seen that due to their duty and in order to provide timely information, those television and radio channels have provided wide coverage of elections in most countries, especially the United States and Britain, while discussing all issues related to those elections mostly with a tendency to disclose controversial information. Nobody, in the meantime, accused us of interfering in internal affairs of the United States or Britain or even Turkey and Iraq. This was true because everybody knew that this is how media should work, which in view of the value of news items and their own orientation, they usually focus and provide analytical coverage on various aspects of elections in a given country, especially with regard to those issues that domestic media of the country pay less attention to.

6. Therefore, through their vote in elections for the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the Assembly of Experts, the people of Tehran proved that they have enough media knowledge to differentiate between biased news work by media outlets of other countries, and the issue of dependence on foreigners. As a result, leveling false accusations about existence of a “British list” by the rival faction, practically galvanized people into action to show that time for such propaganda ploys is long over. This issue especially affected the results of elections for both assemblies when the other side dealt with such a grave accusation with modesty and tolerance as a result of which most people in Tehran were more encouraged to vote for their list in order to support the wronged side.

7. If the reformist faction could have put more qualified candidates on its list for the Assembly of Experts, it did not have to enlist at least eight principlist candidates, whose positions were considered closer to the reformist camp. In that case, it would become clear whether opposition to prominent principlist candidates garnered more votes for the list introduced by Hashemi Rafsanjani, President Hassan Rouhani and former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, or people of Tehran sought to vote in a way that their vote would be counted and observed. Therefore, the time is ripe for profound and accurate assessment of the performance of both camps and it would be better for them not to become euphoric about their victory or try to justify why they lost the votes, and instead, understand the current conditions in Iran and realize the need for cooperation in the new parliament in order to solve people’s problems.

8. The reformist camp, which today is a combination of supporters of Hashemi, Rouhani and Khatami, can take better advantage of this new opportunity to create national unity by taking advantage of such a refined personality as Mohammad Reza Aref at the top of the reformist faction in the upcoming parliament. This is true because the tenth parliament will need cooperation from all factions in order to start interaction from the parliament in the post-JCPOA era. If both factions manage to engage in constructive interaction, they would be able to provide strong support for the administration in its bid to promote constructive interaction with the world, without having any concern about being accused of dependence on foreign powers.

9. Ali Larijani and his logical positions in recent years have shown that he can be a very good candidate for creating unity among various factions inside the parliament in cooperation with Aref. This is especially true now that most people, who tried to create obstacles on the way of cooperation between the parliament and the administration, have failed to gain needed votes to enter the legislature.

10. At present, unlike the past, reformists know that principlists are an undeniable reality in the Iranian society. Therefore, their modesty in accepting votes and complying with returns from ballot boxes can provide a very good ground for both factions to make plans for development of the country instead of engaging in a useless fight over division of power or in a race to get more concessions through elimination of their rival.

11. This reality must not be ignored that the country’s Leader, in a calculated measure, put the emphasis on maximum participation by people in the elections and stressed protection of people’s votes and revolutionary values. In doing this, the Leader provided a very suitable atmosphere under which Iran will be able to hold its head high and we can have religious democracy and be proud of it.

12. Any political system must be able to defend the fact that it reflects the demand of the majority of its people. Fortunately, the situation in Iran is currently like this whether we agree with this majority of people or not. There is no doubt that we cannot just approve of that part of people, who are similar to us and condemn the other part that we don’t like for any reason. If we accept the vote in Tehran, we must also accept the vote given to more than 100 principlist candidates in other Iranian cities and show respect for that vote. Only in this case, we would be able to encourage constructive interaction among one another in order to build a developed and free Iran.

Key WordsIran's Elections, Lessons, Opportunities, Interaction, Disqualification, Political System, Legitimacy, Rivalries, Propaganda, Foreign Interventions, Islamic Consultative Assembly, Assembly of Experts, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Khatami, Mohammad Reza Aref, Ali Larijani, Reformists, Principlists, Beheshtipour

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