Parliamentary elections in 2016
The interviewees frequently noted the great significance of the upcoming Parliamentary elections in February 2016, and the major effect a successful agreement would have in strengthening the reformist forces in those elections.
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They felt that if moderates did well, a virtuous cycle would ensue in which the Rouhani administration and Parliament would be far more likely to be able to push through a more reformist agenda.
They also made reference to the imperative of fair and transparent elections, in order to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 2009 elections in Iran, when peaceful protests, violently put down by the government, swept the country in response to widely perceived vote rigging that resulted in the election of the hardline Ahmadinejad.
Over the next ten months and with the upcoming elections, if the agreement achieves maximum results, there is hope that people would move towards creating the same kind of change in the Parliament or even the Council of Experts as they brought to the government in 2013.
–Issa Saharkhiz, Journalist and Former Political Prisoner
I believe the Parliamentary elections to be very important. The Rouhani cabinet must focus all its might on this issue and on ensuring the health of the elections….Social pressure from the bottom to the top must also come to the administration’s aid, in order to make the upcoming elections effective elections. To be sure, a change in the makeup of the Parliament can help to change Iran’s domestic environment towards the issues pertaining to human rights and freedom of expression.
–Ahmad Shirzad, Physics Professor and Former Member of Parliament
Parliamentary elections are also coming up, and if [Rouhani] succeeds, this will have its own impact on the elections, if, God willing, it is a free election…without a doubt, the atmosphere in the future will be in Rouhani’s favor.
–Hermidas Bavand, Political Scientist and Spokesperson of National Front
It was repeatedly stressed, however, that failure to reach an accord would greatly strengthen hardliners’ control of Parliament after the 2016 elections, with a concomitant obliteration of any hopes for civil or political reforms in the country.