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Behind the Curtain | Principlist Rivalries in 2d Round of Parliamentary Elections

by ARASH KARAMI and NEGAR MORTAZAVI

04 May 2012 09:42Comments
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List of candidates from the Stabiliy Front. The text suggests that the Supreme Leader approves of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi's "insight" and that Mesbah Yazdi "prefers" the candidates from the Stability Front.

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Arash Karami is a frequent Tehran Bureau contributor. Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian journalist based in Washington, D.C.
[ blog ] "Iranians will once again show their exemplary consciousness, insight, and tactfulness to the world on Friday," said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in regard to the May 4 parliamentary runoff elections. Only 30 percent of eligible Tehran residents voted in the first round of the elections, despite the best efforts of officials to encourage a high turnout. Candidates will compete for the 65 remaining undecided seats out of the Majles's 290. In the first round, candidates had to win at least a quarter of the total votes cast in their district. Only 225 candidates were able to do so. There is no required minimum in the second round.

Of the seats that will be contested Friday, 25 are in the Tehran electoral district, for which 50 candidates will be competing. Tehran Governor-General Morteza Tamaddon, in his last electoral address, said that all forces are trying their best to stage a healthy election. He emphasized that if anyone tries to force others to vote for any specific candidate, they will be confronted by the law.

These parliamentary elections have largely been boycotted by the reformists. The main rivalry has been between two principlist groups: one, under the supervision of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, that goes by the name of Jebheh Mottahed-e Osoolgarayan (United Front of Principlists); the other, whose spiritual leader is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, known as Jebheh Paaydaari (Stability Front, or Durable Front). Supporters of each camp have resorted to letter-writing campaigns. The latest epistle was written by a group of students from Imam Sadegh University, where Mahdavi Kani serves as chairman. The letter accuses the Stability Front of thinking of Mesbah Yazdi as the Deputy Supreme Leader -- that is, of having designs on being the next Supreme Leader. There has not been a Deputy Supreme Leader since Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was ignominiously demoted from the position in 1989.

Copyright © 2012 Arash Karami and Negar Mortazavi

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