Leftists launch first real political party
Iran Weekly Press Digest
August 2, 1999
Iranian leftists proclaimed Monday that they will launch the first
real political party in Iran's history. The Islamic Labour Party (ILP)
will be the first political party which will be formed in Iran with the
initiative of the Labour House and labour syndicates, Labour House Secretary
General and main founder of the ILP, Ali-Reza Mahjub, told reporters in
"The party will be officially formed after the labour congress
(in mid August) and it will initially have 300 members which is later
to be increased by another 500," Mahjub, who is also a MP, said. Soheyla
Jelodarzadeh, a female MP and a renowened leftist activist, said that
the ILP will not only be formed to defend the rights of the labourers
in Iran but also to participate in the country's political power structure.
"With more than 20 million labourers or people related to labourers,
and with one third of them eligible to vote, we have the necessary popular
potential to participate in the country's political power structure,"
Jelodarzadeh, who is believed to play a major role in the ILP, said.
She added that with the ILP taking power in the years to come, the
party would also push the president to allocate more ministers in the
cabinet. The leftists faction is formed of members of the Labour House
and the labour syndicate as well as the members of the MRM, a clergy organisation
opposed to the conservative traditional clergy.
The two leftist groupings, together with the moderate faction, have
supported President Mohammad Khatami in gaining his landslide victory
in the 1997 presidential elections and later formed the leftist- moderate
government coalition. But in the more than 20 ministerial portfolios,
only 3 are allocated to the leftists and the rest are moderates.
The ILP is believed to have the intention to change the cabinet structure
but at the same time support and consolidate the reform policies by Khatami.
The ILP will also have a wide-spread participation in February's parliamentary
elections, which are believed to play a major impact on the future political
structure of the country, especially if the pro- Khatami candidates succeed
to break the seven-year-long legislative dominance of the conservatives.
The party system in Iran has so far failed - both before and after
the 1979 Islamic revolution - to play the desired role as in the Western
countries and according to Mahjub, "they are in the embryo phase
and have so far had a rocket-like start and a very much unrocket-like continuance".
The ILP intends to change this trend, he said. "At the beginning
it is inevitable that there will be numerous parties, but the popular and
political resonance will later determine which parties will eventually
stay and play an active role in politics," Jelodarzadeh said.
The ILP is also expected to put more pressure on conservatives. "ILP
is looking for a coalition with factions close to President Khatami for
the sixth Majlis (parliament) elections to be held in February,"
Mahjub said. "We cannot claim to have effective role in political
affairs of the country, but our expectation is that we would have a large
number of members and many supporters throughout Iran," Mahjub added.
"We cannot say that how many candidates we would have for the
forthcoming Majlis elections while we have not achieved any specific results
of our negotiations with leftist factions," Tajeddin, another ILP
member and MP for Isfahan said.
Regarding amendment of press law, Jelodarzadeh said we are against the
plan but first the laws should be fully implemented in practice as a look
at all newspapers make everybody easily realise that the press does not
consider the law. At the present time there are two parties, The Islamic
Participation Party and Constructive Servants (G6), that have however
no major role in the national policies.
Observers wonder whether this party can have an effective role on Iran's
political arena and fulfil their claim./-