The deal led by Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s more moderate president, brought an end to years of crippling worldwide sanctions last month.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves after casting his vote in the parliamentary and Experts Assembly elections in Tehran, Iran, on February 26, 2016.
The most surprising was the loss of seats on the clerical assembly for some prominent hard-liners, including Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the current Experts Assembly chief who was not re-elected. Two staunch hard-liners – Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the current head of the assembly, and Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the spiritual mentor of hard-liners – were not re-elected.
However Jannati, chair of another influential body in Iran, the Guardian Council, which must approve all election results and which barred thousands of candidates from contesting the polls, scraped re-election, taking 16th place, the last seat available in Tehran. Jannati is also the chairman of the Guardian Council, a cleric vetting body that disqualified the majority of reformist candidates from running for the elections.
Rafsanjani is among the founders of the Islamic Republic and a former president.
Analysts say the large number of independents may be significant as they could cooperate across ideological lines with Rouhani’s government.
But according to an unofficial tally by the Reuters news agency, conservatives won about 112 seats in the 290-seat parliament, reformists and centrists 90, and independents and religious minorities 29.
The supreme leader has final say on all major policies in the country, curbing the power of Rouhani as president and legislators in parliament.
A win for the moderates strengthens Mr Rouhani’s hand at world forums where stability in West Asia and the future of Syria are discussed.
Should Khamenei pass away or become incapacitated, the assembly would meet to vote on a successor, who could come from within the body or outside of it. They would then hold a secret ballot where the candidate would be chosen by a simple majority.
The latter is more important since the 88-member assembly is responsible for choosing Iran’s supreme leader, who is eventually responsible for making all the important political decisions. While the official countrywide results are not yet in, it is possible that conservative candidates will do well in other provinces. The Assembly serves an eight-year term, and it is widely expected that Khamenei will have to be replaced during that timeframe.
While conservatives were wiped out by reformists in Tehran, they retained some seats in other cities and enjoyed strong support in rural areas.
It is being described as a blow to Iran’s conservative Islamic establishment.
While supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed Rouhani on the nuclear deal and wants a better economy he has been cautious about foreign involvement and will hold the president to account. But even so, by replacing hard-line lawmakers with moderates and conservatives who agree with at least some of Rouhani’s agenda, voters managed to make their voices heard.
“Nominal development without independence or national dignity is not accepted”, Khamenei said. In fact, 15 of Tehran’s 16 seats in the Assembly of Experts went to Rouhani allies.
But outside the capital, initial results indicate that the showing was not so buoyant, and we must remember that Iran has had a pro-reform Parliament and a moderate president before; that synergy did little in the face of the overwhelming structural and economic advantages the system affords hard-liners and their institutions.