چهارشنبه, ۳۰ مهر ۱۳۹۳
21 October 2014

“Khatami’s Vote in Parliament Elections: Final Blow to Reform Movement?”

۱۳۹۰ اسفند ۱۷

Reza Parchizadeh

Despite his initial stance on the urgency of the Reformists’ withdrawal from the upcoming parliament elections in Iran in protest to the continuous crackdown on the civil society by the Islamic Republic – which many took as the total rejection of the elections by the Reformists, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran (1997-2005) and the key figure of the Reform Movement, last Friday attended, under suspicious circumstances, a ballot box in the provincial town of Damavand in northeast of Tehran to cast his vote, leaving in a state of shock many of the proponents and even opponents of the Reform Movement.

The shock was induced due to the fact that Khatami in particular and the Reform Movement in general introduce themselves as the instigators and proprietors of the so-called Green Movement that purportedly aims to uphold democratic values in Iran, for which it must also take a firm stance against certain aspects of the Islamic Republic. However, since his appearance on the political stage in Iran in the late 1990s, Khatami seems to have been employing double standards with regard to democracy, thus following a continuous path of retreat.

For instance, during his first term of presidency, he failed to properly defend and would later repudiate the Student Movement which had been formed and acted in the hope of his support, thus leading to the brutal crackdown on the students by the regime’s hardliners in June 1999. Also, in the long run, he failed to secure the curtailment of the prerogatives of the Guardian Council and the office of the Supreme Leader which he had in no uncertain terms promised prior to being elected president. In addition, in 2010, after the massive crackdown on the Iranian public following the disputed presidential elections of 2009, Khatami, in a controversial statement, proposed that “both the people and the Leader/the Regime forgive what has been done to them,” which enraged many who had been harmed during those events or had lost relatives or friends.

As such, it must not come as a surprise that Khatami’s act of voting should raise such a clamor in the Iranian political arena. In consequence and under intense public pressure, Khatami, after a few days’ lapse, was obliged to issue a short declaration on Monday, explaining, in an exhortative tone, his motives for what he had done. The gist of that declaration lies in the following few sentence:

“What I have done emanates from my political and intellectual convictions, and from what I believe in. It was from the standpoint of a Reformist, bound to retain the last threads of Reformism, which I consider the most important or even the sole method of attaining the well-being of the nation, reaching the genuine goals of the Revolution, accommodating the rights of the citizens and the exigencies of the country, and deterring the domestic and foreign threats, that I ventured to do so…”

Expectedly, the public, whether opponents of the Reform Movement or not, did not take well to Khatami’s declaration in general. Some even went as far as to write retorts, accusing him of “betraying” the blood of the martyrs which has been spilled for the sake of democracy during the past few years. Therefore, it is not far from truth to say that Khatami’s voting might have sealed the doom of the already-politically-incapacitated Reform Movement in Iran, and to take this event as the final blow to the remaining “ethical weight” of the Reformists, which is tantamount to a political suicide for them; thereby ushering in a new era of democratic resistance in Iran beyond the boundaries of the Reform Movement.

«نوشته فوق می تواند نظر نویسنده باشد و الزامن نظر رادیو کوچه نیست»

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۲ Comments


  1. ویلیام
    1

    Which forces do you think will lead the new democratic resistance you write about? Is the opposition suffering from too much fragmentation and repression or do you think they still pose a serious threat to the régime? And how do the broad masses of Iran view the legitimacy of the electoral process, now that it has become more “sanitized” than ever?


  2. رضا پرچی زاده
    2

    ‎۱) It is difficult to say. What I meant was that the democratic resistance in Iran is much likely to become depoliticized henceforward, coming from popular cores of resistance rather than official or unofficial political parties. 2) The “opposition” is a rather broad term in the realm of Iranian politics. The Reformists, strictly speaking, are not part of the opposition; they constitute, more accurately, the “inside opposition,” which does not much in the way of democratic aspirations, for that matter. Anyway, they are certainly suffering from too much fragmentation and repression, whatever they are; and it is highly unlikely that they could offer any resistance to the regime. 3) The electoral process in Iran has never been viewed as totally legitimate, but in the past few years, with the rise of totalitarianism (manifest in the massive crackdown on civil society in 2009), the people have to a great extent lost confidence in the process. The official participation percentage was % 65, while the more realistic assessments say it was below % 30. The true figure could be even less than that. In sum, the regime hugely suffers from lack of legitimacy, but it still has the clout to maintain itself. We must wait and see what happens next. Of course, I must also write!