And the award goes to Hashemi Rafsanjani!

Alongside the 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony or Oscars on Feb. 28, another race was in progress in Iran, which had important global implications. While the Oscars presenters read out names of Academy Award winners, in Iran names of winners of the twin elections started trickling in.

None of the election winners in Iran were as glamorous as the Oscar awardees even though they can probably compete against Hollywood stars in their acting skills. The top prize, in many categories, went to former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

From making calculated maneuvers in the elections to mobilizing support, selecting the cast to acting in supporting role and being a playwright across different scripts, Rafsanjani left his fingerprint on all. His rivals, however, were not easy targets and their loss was indeed significant for the entire establishment.

The fresh air of victory registered in the elections has, however, raised hopes of systemic reforms in a peaceful manner. In particular, the astonishing victory of the List of Hope in Tehran sends a laud and clear message to the hierarchy.

Underlying message

The continuation of improvement and stability at the economic front was the message to the parliament from the electorates. By ousting few permanent high profile clerics from the Assembly of Exports people have voted for major changes and reform within the leadership. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated Iranians and appreciated the public response to the Islamic system’s call. The message was also posted on his twitter account.

Regardless of who won or lost, the electorates turned up in large numbers to vote for pragmatist and moderate candidates, which was important for Khamenei. A landmark victory for Hashemi and Rowhani supporters is still not the victory for the reformists. Knowing this fact makes us understand why the supreme leader sees the large turnout as testimony to his system’s legitimacy.

The continuation of the current policies of the government, and the way Rowhani has handled the nuclear issue with the West, have the approval of Ayatollah Khamenei

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

The Guardian Council made perfect alteration for these elections, which basically means nothing could be fundamentally changed. Perhaps it was Hashamei Rafsanjani who received the most significant image boost, considering that his credibility and status has been challenged by the supreme leader. With this landmark victory and a seat in the Assembly Exports, his elevated status can prove to be influential.

The support for Rafsanjani could be seen as a testimony of the public’s wish to see the next supreme leader or the leadership council to act more moderate in comparison to Khamenei. However, this will be determined by the extent to which the 5th Assembly of Exports can push for reforms that Rafsanjani is looking for. This will be particularly relevant to the election of the next supreme leader.

As far as the 10th parliament is concerned, all eyes are on independent elected members who constitute about 30 percent of the seats. The political position of this parliament will be shaped by what side these independents take.

Despite this major victory for the moderates in Tehran, the hardliners continue to have an upper hand with a slight margin. This is why the position adopted by the independents will make a difference. Most analysts expect them to favor the Rowhani government.

Testing times

In many ways, the next two years of Rowhani’s presidency are going to be extremely important for Rafsanjani. Rowhani wants to complete his term without any tussle with political leaders and also wants to satisfy the public.

Clashes with conservatives and their supporters – who have lost the elections and pay heed to conspiracy theories against the president – is dangerous for Rowhani. The smooth and well-organized election process and the supreme leader’s endorsement speaks of Rowhani’s success.

The continuation of the current policies of the government, and the way Rowhani has handled the nuclear issue with the West, have the approval of Ayatollah Khamenei. The supreme leader trusts the president and people trust Rowhani. Such an unseen relation witnessed so far can be described as the biggest achievement in the history of the Islamic Republic, since the revolution.

Rafsanjani’s strenuous efforts have mended the relations between the people and the system after intense clashes during the presidential election in 2009. Hence the award “the saver of the Islamic Republic” goes to him, as always.
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Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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