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EghtesadOnline: Reformists will independently field and endorse their own candidates for the 2020 parliamentary election rather than aligning themselves with other political camps, says a senior lawmaker.

"At present, given the experience we have had since 2016, the Reformists Policymaking Council has concluded that we should not form a coalition [with other parties] because we have failed to fulfill people's demands," Mohammad Reza Aref, chairman of the pro-reform Hope faction in parliament, was recently quoted as saying at a meeting with university students by IRNA. 

He was referring to the time when a reformist-backed list of candidates aligned with moderate President Hassan Rouhani won all 30 parliamentary seats in the Tehran constituency.

Their success marked a stunning comeback for the pro-reform front that had been sidelined since the 2009 protests, following the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, whose main rival was Mir Hossein Mousavi, a high-profile reformer and former prime minister who remains under house arrest after more than 10 years, Financial Tribune reported.

Aref's comments reflected the reform movement's growing discontent with Rouhani—who is facing mounting criticism over his failure to accomplish some of his major campaign promises—and their efforts to not further lose their support base among voters. 

The last litmus test for reformists came in 2017 when they won all the seats in Tehran City Council, a body in charge of managing the affairs of the sprawling metropolis.

Aref—a former first vice president who dropped out of the presidential race in 2013 after calls from reformists for him to unite in a coalition with Rouhani—said he understands the challenges facing the current administration but believes more should be done.   

"The administration should only make promises that they can fulfill. It is true that the circumstances surrounding each administration are different. What Rouhani's administration went through during his first term in office was totally different from what he is experiencing in his second term. We appreciate this difference, but at the same time we have many complaints," Aref said.



Flawed Assumption

On the campaign pledges of reformist-minded parliamentary candidates in 2016, the mild-mannered Aref said some aspirants assume that they will be able to resolve all problems if they find their way into the parliament. 

"But when they are elected, they realize that solving many issues does not fall within their scope of responsibility or authority and that a lawmaker is only tasked with policymaking and supervising [the execution of laws]." 

One of Rouhani's undertakings that has not been fulfilled yet was to resolve the situation of Mousavi and his fellow presidential contender, Mehdi Karroubi—both of whom were put under house arrest after denouncing the results of the 2009 election and making fraud allegations. 

Aref said he and like-minded lawmakers tried to help resolve the issue as it could help boost national unity, despite the fact that settling this matter is not within the responsibility of parliamentarians. 

"We believe that this issue should have been sorted out by now. We would have solved it if we had a say, but of course there have been some considerations [by authorities]," he said. 

The Stanford University-educated lawmaker also said reformists are holding consultations and brainstorming with the rival camp to see how they can inject hope into society ahead of the upcoming election. 

"We have even agreed to draft a joint code of ethics, which is a great progress. It is a progress for us because it shows reformists are no longer viewed as people who seek to topple the establishment or do not adhere to religious values," he said. 

“However, the reformist front plans to issue a separate list as there are many competent reformist figures both inside and outside the parliament.” 


Iran Mohammad Reza Aref Candidates Reformists Independent List Parliamentary Polls parliamentary election political camps Hope faction