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List of candidates

January 31, 2000

TEHRAN -- The leftist Majma-e Rouhaniyoun-e Mobarez (MRM) has published its preliminary list of candidates from Tehran for the 6th Majlis (parliament). The list has surprised a lot of political analysts because of the diametrically opposed ideologies and beliefs of several of the nominees.

The list includes the names of MRM's own Mehdi Karrubi, Majid Ansari, and Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, as well as Islamic Iran Participation Front's (IIPF) Mohammad Reza Khatami and Abbas Abdi, Islamic Revolution Mojahedin

Organization's (IRMO) Mohsen Armin and Behzad Nabavi, former member of the Society for the Defense of the Values of the Islamic Revolution (SDVIR) Ahmad Pournejati, former PTT minister Mohammad Gharazi who enjoys the support of both the Executives of Construction Party (ECP) and the MRM, Vahideh Taleqani who belongs to an unofficial nationalist-religious group, Seyed Mahmoud Doaei who is inclined toward the ECP, Secretary-General of the House of Labor, Alireza Mahjoub, together with Secretary-General of Islamic Kar (work) Party, Abolqasem Sarhadizadeh.

IIPF has also come up with its own list of candidates which includes the names of people like former deputy Culture Minister Ahmad Bourghani, Faezeh Hashemi, Hamidreza Jalaipour, managing director of the banned daily Jameah, the wife of culture minister, Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar, as well as political science professor of Tehran University, Elahe Koolaie. Mohtashemi, Abdi and Mahjoub are also on the IIPF list.

What has surprised political analysts is the fact that most of these people have nothing in common with each other and logically do not belong on the same list. Analysts are wondering how an extremist such as Mohtashemi could be lumped together, politically, with the likes of Doaei and Pournejati. Or, what is Mahjoub, with his strong bias for the full implementation of the current Labor Law, has in common with Faezeh Hashemi who is one of the important members of the ECP and strongly opposes the Labor Law.

There are more fundamental differences separating the nominees. For example, Mohtashemi claims that he was the one who was given the letter by the late Imam Khomeini banning the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) from political activity. How is it possible for him and Vahideh Taleqani who belongs to a nationalist-religious group to think alike and work together?

Also, it is hard to accept that Abbas Abdi, a vehement critic of Hashemi Rafsanjani's economic policies could work alongside Gharazi who, as Rafsanjani's minister, implemented some of those economic policies.

The only possible common denominator between these candidates is their perceived support for President Khatami. But even if they all find their way into the Majlis, they are bound to disagree over the best way to show their support for the president. After all, these names belong to such diverse political groups that it is almost impossible for them all to agree on what to have for breakfast let alone formulate national policy. So, not only their entering the Majlis would not be any help to Khatami, but it would be the beginning of unimaginable woes for him.

Another point is that a political coalition created just to support one man has a very short life span. ECP is a case in point. The party was created on the eve of the Fifth Majlis to provide support for Hashemi Rafsanjani's policies. But now personal and political differences between its members has caused a huge split in its ranks.

In fact, the above-mentioned lists are more of a wish list of the MRM and the IIPF than a realistic list of the names of a compatible and likeminded group of politicians with similar goals and objectives.

The list of candidates from Tehran is usually an indication of what the provinces' list would be like. Considering the Tehran lists, there is not much hope for those of the provinces.

MRM must come up with an improved final list in the short time left before the February 18 elections, otherwise the Khatami government will face a confused and divided Majlis which cannot support him even if it wanted to.

MRM's preliminary list will be finalized after consultations with the other 17 political groups which make up the 2nd of Khordad (May 23) Front. The fact that after all this time these groups have not been able to come up with a final common list is an indication of their being wide apart on important issues.

Neither the MRM nor the IIPF list included Rafsanjani's name, a strong indication that Khatami supporters have parted company with the ECP. ECP had declared that it would retaliate against any party or group that omits Rafsanjani's name from its list of candidates by dropping the most prominent name belonging to that party or group from its list.

The fact that Rafsanjani's name is not on either of the two above-mentioned lists may not prevent his election, but it will most certainly make it very difficult for him to function as the Speaker of the 6th Majlis.


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