Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Moderates’ Political Future Hinges on Rouhani’s Cabinet Line-up

A political analyst says the way Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would form his next cabinet can play a decisive role in the political future of moderates and reformists in Iran.

Reformist political activist Abdollah Nasseri has, in an editorial published in the Persian-language Arman-e Emrooz daily, argued that President Rouhani’s next cabinet should represent the civil society who supported him in the May election.

Nasseri says the political future of moderates and reformists in Iran hinges on the way Rouhani will form his cabinet.

The text of the analytical piece follows:


The recent presidential election was undoubtedly one of the most fabulous elections in Iran’s history as voters from two generations that took shape following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and had political understanding actively took part in it.

Moreover, although the bulk of the news on the election was carried via the cyberspace, traditional media such as the state radio and TV, the press, news agencies and even Friday Prayer leaders and their sermons played a determining role as well.

However, in the May 19 presidential election, the civil society took shape through social media, so much so that it overshadowed all conventional media which could influence the trend of the voting. That’s why we witnessed a unique election where a well-established civil society rallied behind Hassan Rouhani. The huge number of votes cast on Election Day, not to mention the voters who did not get the opportunity to cast their ballots due to long lines at polling stations, stood at around 27 million. The president should know that this huge number of votes represented the demands of the two Iranian generations.

The demands are basically political, social and economic ones. So, irrespective of the gender, average age and any claim of a share, if Rouhani’s second Cabinet is not efficient, consistent and coordinated unlike the first one, definitely it will affect the political future of all elements influencing the ballot boxes. Therefore, we may not witness major social changes because we believe regardless of which person and camp has won the election, a massive turnout could serve as a strong national and international backup for the country.

So, if Mr. Rouhani’s second cabinet line-up is similar to that of the first one, in which differences of opinion led to deviation from the president’s programs in some areas, the performance of the president and his cabinet over the next four years will not only affect upcoming elections, but fail to result in any logical development in terms of consolidating national foundations and narrowing social and generation gaps. If this trend continues, it will incontrovertibly influence the political future of officials, especially at a time when social media are so powerful in disseminating information and dominating the public opinion.

The president seeks to show the 24-million strong community of his supporters that he will fulfil his pledges, which requires an efficient cabinet. Of course, “efficient” has a specific meaning here. It means Cabinet members should agree to the president’s discourse. Another point worth mentioning is that the president himself announced that a considerable number of the Cabinet members had not supported him in the election.

Therefore, the twelfth cabinet should not only agree to President Rouhani’s discourse, but should also account for the demands of the voters. If we accept that women and youth contributed heavily to Rouhani’s election win, these two strata of society should be present in managerial posts to run the country. Of course, that does not mean that voters are claiming shares, but that the society is ready to see the Cabinet taking shape.

In other words, as Mr. Rouhani believed, the grassroots support behind him was the result of moderates and reformists’ information dissemination and election campaigns. Naturally, the Cabinet should be the representative of such a society. The Cabinet is not a joint stock company, but should exactly represent the civil society which has rallied behind the president.

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