Iran’s newly elected reformist-backed president said Sunday that the country’s dire economic problems cannot be solved “overnight,” as he took his first steps in consulting with members of the clerically dominated establishment on his new policies.
Hassan Rowhani’s surprise victory in Friday’s elections puts him in charge of an executive branch that traditionally has taken the lead in handling the economy, but nuclear efforts, defense and foreign affairs remain primarily in the hands of the ruling clerics and their powerful protectors, the Revolutionary Guard.
This creates a challenge for Rowhani, as Iran suffers from more than 30 percent inflation as well as 14 percent unemployment rates linked to Western sanctions for Tehran’s suspect nuclear program. Rowhani has called for reaching out to the international community but has little authority over the nuclear activities tied to sanctions.
The semi-official ISNA agency said Rowhani discussed inflation and unemployment as well as possible members of his cabinet with Ali Larijani, speaker for Iran's conservative dominated parliament.
“Today, we took the first step for cooperation between two branches of power,” Rowhani was quoted as saying. Rowhani will take office in August and needs parliament to approve his proposed nominees for 18 ministries.
Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guard declared its willingness to cooperate with the president. “We announce our comprehensive readiness for interaction and cooperation with the next administration in the framework of legal duties and assignments,” the Guard said on its webpage.
The outward displays of cooperation by Iran’s establishment reflect its desire to close the political rift caused by unrest over disputed election results in 2009, and signal to world leaders that the ruling clerics are not publicly standing against Rowhani’s call for outreach and dialogue with the international community.
Iran’s stock exchange meanwhile climbed for the second continuous day. The rise came after a night of a celebration in Tehran, as the announcement of Rowhani’s victory sent tens of thousands of jubilant supporters into the streets. Cars honked and blared music ranging from patriotic songs to the Lambada.
Riot police, who were frequently deployed on Tehran streets in the run-up to Friday’s vote, were conspicuous in their absence. State TV showed footage of the celebrations and rebroadcast a speech he made after his victory was announced Saturday, asserting Iran’s readiness to improve its ties with the world.
The website of the Tehran Stock Exchange said the market jumped 1,194 points by its closure at noon on Sunday, reaching 47,460 from its Saturday close of 46,623, almost a 2.5 percent increase.
On Saturday the stock exchange index improved by 2 percent while Iran’s national currency, the rial, strengthened by 9 percent against the U.S. dollar.
Foreign currency shops Sunday traded each U.S. dollar for 34,600 rials compared to 36,300 rials Thursday, the eve of the election.