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EghtesadOnline: The issue of voter turnout in the upcoming parliamentary elections is a cause of concern for both principlists and reformists, says a political figure who believes that the reformist camp should step up its efforts to bring more people to the polls.

"Both parties are extremely concerned about people's participation in the elections. However, the difference is that reformists prefer a high voter turnout while their rivals prefer a limited participation," Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, a member of Reformist Policymaking Council, told ISNA in a recent interview.

The February 2020 parliamentary vote will be held under conditions where the struggle of ordinary Iranians to make ends meet has become harder since last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on the country.

Many Iranian regions witnessed street protests in recent weeks after the government introduced gasoline rationing and price hikes of 50-200%, which fed widespread worries over rising inflation despite official promises that the revenue would be used to help needy families, according to Financial Tribune.

Mousavi-Lari said a potential low turnout has worried reformists but the opposing side, which includes but is not limited to principlists, believes that a "more controlled and limited" turnout would serve their interests. 

 

 

Need for Unity 

The reformist front should take action to preserve their unity, he said, noting that they can win a strong support again and overcome challenges through unity.

"If people do not back reformists, it will obviously be very difficult for them to secure votes. So they must reach a consensus inside their camp and try to gain public trust. It is a goal that can be achieved," he added. 

Mousavi-Lari said people have grievances against reformists and their sentiments are partly rooted in the fact that they are not satisfied with the track record of President Hassan Rouhani's administration. 

He was referring to the fact that reformists threw their weight behind Rouhani who secured a decisive reelection for a second four-year term in 2017. 

In 2013, former vice president, Mohammad Reza Aref—the sole reformist candidate approved by the election vetting body, the Guardians Council—withdrew his presidential bid, and the pro-reform front rallied around Rouhani.

However, the president is currently under fire from all sides for his handling of economic struggles and mounting tensions with Washington.

"The sitting administration is not a reformist one, but reformists supported Rouhani throughout his presidential campaign … so they cannot pass the buck and say that they have nothing to do with the Rouhani administration," Mousavi-Lari said. 

He added that the parliament and the administration are not solely responsible for all the problems facing the country and the current situation is the result of flawed structures and decisions by all those who have a role in handling state affairs. 

 

Iran Parliamentary elections Elections concern Reformists Voter Turnout Principlists