Taking the lead

There’s going to be another presidential election in Iran in June 2009. Another chance for the reformists to get their candidate elected to the office of Presidency.

Everyone in the reformists’ camp agrees that they cannot afford another four years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. The policy of spend, spend and spend has proved popular with the masses since they see the short term result. However, those who look further out can see that the huge drop in oil prices coupled with the lack of currency reserves is creating a huge obstacle in the path of Iran’s economic progress. This obstacle is around the corner and most are either not seeing it or are just ignoring it. However, the crash of the economy is imminent.

The reformists are taking advantage of the looming economic crisis and have persuades Mohammad Khatami to run again for the office of Presidency. Another group is persuading Abdollah Nouri to run as a candidate of change. There are several questions regarding the candidacy of both individuals. Does Khatami have the power to win? Will Khatami be able to get the popular vote? Will the student groups and others who felt that Khatami did not fulfill his promises vote for him again? What about Nouri? Will the guardian council approve his candidacy? Will his hard stance still prove popular with the students and intellectuals? Will he have the name recognition necessary to defeat Ahmadinejad? Khatami has the name recognition and moderation which may prove successful in securing the majority vote. However, it takes more that moderate views to turn the tide of conservatism and huge spending instituted by Ahmadinejad and his government.

In my view, the best chance for winning the popular vote in the upcoming election is by collaboration of Khatami and Nouri. The time has come in Iranian politics for presidential candidates to take advantage of selecting a running mate that will augment their chances to get elected. Khatami is popular with the reformists yet seems too conciliatory when faced with adversity. Nouri, on the other hand, has proved that he stands on principle and does not give in to compromises. The combination of the two is what will win the next election. Reformists and their followers need to see that they will have someone who will fight for their ideas and the moderates need to see someone in office who will recognize the power of negotiation and compromise to move the country forward. Those qualities are not found in one person but two – Nouri and Khatami.

The question then becomes who should take the lead? In a perfect world, Khatami should act as the supporting candidate and Nouri should take the lead. Khatami had his chance for eight years and made huge contributions to the progress of democracy in Iranian politics. However, it is always better for the progress of democracy to bring in and elect “new blood” rather than circulating and sharing the power among the same old people. However, we do not live in a perfect world and the process of democracy in Iran is in its infancy stage. The candidates are not given enough time to be able to campaign effectively across the country and the candidates must first be approved by the Guardian Council before they can campaign.

It appears that Nouri may not get approved to run as a candidate. Therefore, Khatami must take the lead and by choosing Nouri as a running mate he will silence the critics that find him to be too soft and will bring them into his camp. If there is any chance for reformists to win the next election, it is by the power of collaboration between Khatami and Nouri. Whether the two will agree to work together is a question. However, there is no doubt that their joint effort will prove to be the best medicine for the Iranian politics and economy in the years to come.

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