The Birth of a Moderate Parliament

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mohammad Nouri
Expert on International Issues

On Friday, February 26, Iranians from all walks of life took part in general elections, which have been described by the world media as “the most different elections.” Observers have rightly noted and written that the vote and behavior of Iranian citizens on Friday, February 26, were all reminiscent of the memorable day of June 14, 2013. If the product of elections on that day was the birth of a moderate administration under the political climate of Iran, now elections held in late February 2016 are expected to give birth to a moderate parliament.

Between the eleventh presidential election and elections for the 10th Iranian parliament, or Majlis, Iran’s political milieu has seen many fluctuations and changes, but the thing that has not changed is a new look by Iranians at the possible horizon of moderation and tranquility in the country. As if, all Iranians had spent the past three years with the hope and expectation that on the last days of February 2016, they would once again show their resolve for bringing about peaceful change at another corner of the political structure of Iran.

Without a doubt, the ballot boxes gave birth to a new change in Iran’s political arena on February 26. Review of the voice and words of average Iranian citizens, who stood in lines for long hours to give vote and express their thoughts, would show that the coordinates and conditions of Iran’s political arena have changed following the recent elections.

Some observers believe that up to 80 percent of the composition of the Iranian parliament has changed, but a change in people and number of parliamentary seats is Just one aspect of the “story of change.” Other aspects of this development should be explored through the phenomenon, which has been described by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani as “shedding skin at the parliament.”

It is now time to reflect and muse about the quality and quantity of elections, which have been characterized by the valuable number of 33 million votes and a voter turnout of about 60 percent. All political factions and currents have no choice, but to reflect on the hidden messages sent by citizens through their votes, and use lessons learned through these elections as a bridge toward future achievements. Here, we will discuss a number of these characteristics and features that have differentiated these elections from past polls.

February 26 elections can be considered as a turning point in changing the model of political participation in Iran. For the first time during campaigning in these elections, traditional publicity patterns were forsaken. As a result, there were no signs of either heated publicity in urban environment and on the streets, nor was the state-run television mobilized to this effect. Participation and voting of Iranians in February 26 elections came about through the least use of traditional means of publicity. From this viewpoint, their participation in the recent elections is of high and great value. Election turnout on February 26 was more than anything else close to modern and civil models of political participation; a model in which the element of convincement replaced such elements as coercion and obligation and before casting their ballots, participants paid attention to benefits and losses of voting. As reported by media crews, this time around and before going to polling stations, many Iranian citizens had gone through various stages of debate and convincement with friends and families and within their workplaces. In the last stage, the Internet and various social networks such as the Telegram turned into arenas for heated debates over whether to vote or not.

Those citizens who turned voting stations into the stage of a political epic last Friday had already overcome heavy waves of despair and disappointment. The strange point is that Iran’s economy, which has been hit hard under sanctions, is still weighing on the minds of the Iranian citizens and the Iranian society is still grappling with tons of economic problems handed down by the previous administration, including stagnation, various debts and a drastic budget deficit. Finally, in the tug of war between hope and despair, the Iranian society finally put its trust in the moderate administration.

The puzzle of the participation of 33 million Iranians and a 60-percent voter turnout has a clear response, which is the general belief among all Iranian people in the effectiveness of their voting power and their certainty about the impact of elections on their political fate. During more than past two years and through nuclear negotiations and removal of sanctions, Iranians have clearly witnessed the effect that foresight and wisdom have on politics.

Key WordsIran, Different Elections, Moderate Parliament, Political Milieu, Political Structure, Iranian Citizens, President Hassan Rouhani, Political Factions, February 26, Election Turnout, Nouri

Source: Iran Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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