Demonstration in Tehran, Iran

The numbers

19,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment installed in Iran before the nuclear agreement.

6104 the centrifuges that Iran can maintain after the agreement.

300 kg the maximum amount of enriched uranium that Iran can keep as a reserve following the agreement.

100 billion dollars the value, according to the Iranian government, of the assets thawed after the removal of the sanctions.

20 billion euros for the value of the agreements signed between Italy and Iran.

But did the reformists really win?

In February 2016, Iranian voters were called to the polls for the renewal of the Majlis – the country’s Parliament – and the Assembly of Experts. Before the vote, the candidates were submitted to the scrutiny of the Guardian Council, which admitted only 6229 of the 12,123 candidates who intended to compete for the 290 parliamentary seats to the electoral competition; the exclusions concerned personalities attributable to the moderate and reformist camps. Among those admitted, then, 729 retired, bringing the number of participants down to 5500.

At the end of the first round of February – awaiting the second round which then took place on 29 April – the various camps accredited themselves as winners: framing the electoral lists in a simplified perspective and focusing on what happened in Tehran, several Western commentators spoke of victory of the reformists, with the List of Hope in support of the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani who won all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital. The Iranian political system, however, is very articulated and complex, and within it, parties understood in the traditional sense of the term cannot be traced. In the parliamentary vote the candidates count above all, and the electoral lists are often very heterogeneous, as evidenced by the List of Hope itself which presented so many reformists within it, as much personality of the moderate front, as even figures of explicit conservative extraction. Therefore, interpreting the good result of the candidates who support Rouhani as a victory of the reformist front would mean providing a limited vision of the electoral results, not taking into account the nuances that animate the political framework. Tehran’s results do not exhaust the geographic-electoral complexity of Iran, where support for the more conservative side remained strong in rural areas. The absence of a solid majority in the Majlis will presumably lead to the formation of coalitions, but the retreat of the ultraconservatives and the consolidation of the centrist components, moderate and pragmatists – as well as the possible support of several independent deputies – seem to guarantee the president a Parliament closer to his positions. The new assembly that took office in May should therefore prove to be in favor of Iran’s progressive return to the international political scene, well disposed towards opening up to the West, interested in continuing the ‘new course’ and eager to attract foreign investments.

According to searchforpublicschools, Iranian voters seem to have launched a message of overall approval of Rouhani’s work, whose re-election to the presidency of the Republic in May 2017 may be closer. It is also worth noting the entry into Parliament of 18 women, equal to 6% of the assembly and a record for the country, even if an election was canceled by the Council of Guardians. However, it would be wrong to interpret these orientations as the prelude to a radical change in Iranian politics: the model of the Islamic Republic continues to be solid, and key positions will remain controlled by non-elective figures who preside over the system. The Assembly of Experts, also renewed in February, maintains a de facto conservative approach. However, there is something new: the current assembly will remain in office until 2024, and with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei elderly and in poor health, it could be called to elect the new supreme guide. This would open an interesting game, with the moderates ready to assert themselves and try to block the election of an ultra-conservative personality at the top of the Republic.

Demonstration in Tehran, Iran