January 27, 2016: A member of the Policy Committee for Reformists said last week that Iran’s Guardian Council disqualified a majority of reformist-leaning candidates from upcoming parliamentary elections.
Only 30 out of 3,000 hopeful reformist candidates were qualified to run in the late February elections. The disqualifications were led by Ahmad Jannati, the Leader of the Guardian Council, who accused the candidates of having “corrupt intentions”.
Earlier this month, Ayatollah Khamenei also referenced corrupt intentions he said, “Some people create election lists with corrupt intentions. This isn’t done with sincerity, or out of love for the revolution.”
These disqualifications seriously threaten the reformist movement. Although more candidates will declare their intent to run in the coming weeks, it’s likely that the Guardian Council will continue the pattern of disqualifications in an attempt to cement hardliner power in the parliament.
This process of disqualifications runs blatantly contrary to statements by the Supreme Leader for his opposition to run. On January 9, he stated “Similar to the past, we insist all people, even those who don’t accept the Islamic Republic and the leader, to come to the ballot box since elections belong to the nation, Iran and the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He went on to accuse the United States of internal meddling in past elections, and called for Iranians to subvert their anticipated actions, reach and influence by ensuring the continuation of the regime.
It’s clear that the regime’s rhetoric and actions are once again failing to match up, and the Ayatollah is using the election to further sow anti-American rhetoric into the fabric of Iran’s society. What’s emerging is a picture of Khamenei’s long-term strategy; after utilizing the image of a moderate President Rouhani and government to secure the nuclear deal and release millions of dollars through sanctions relief, the Supreme Leader is now making moves to consolidate hardliner power and advance the regime’s inherently revolutionary principals.