The Election of Hassan Rouhani Could Be the End of a New Era of Reform in Iran

Protester recounts brutal torture at hands of Iranian government officials in the 1990s, during the Islamic Revolution.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of global news and policy coverage from Morning Consult. The full version of this item can be read here.

For thousands of students and activists in Iran, the election of a moderate-to-liberal president, Hassan Rouhani, in June will be the final straw.

Under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President Rouhani’s supporters saw the election as a chance to move forward with reforms that could benefit Iranian society. Ahmadinejad, the supreme leader, saw it as an attempt to return Iranian society to the dark ages of dictatorship, as he sought to portray himself as a defender of God, a defender of Iranian culture and tradition.

During his 12 years in office, Ahmadinejad ruled with an iron fist, arresting and torturing opposition activists, and denying social and economic rights to the Iranian people. His anti-reformist policies alienated millions of Iranians.

The June election, however, offered a chance for the Iranian people to put their trust in democracy and seek reforms to address social inequality and corruption. This could usher in a new era of reform in Iran.

That is, however, not who President Rouhani would make Iran’s next president. A new campaign calling for the ouster of Rouhani has begun in support of the reformist candidate, Ebrahim Raisi. The campaign includes slogans such as “Raisi or Rouhani and Rouhani,” and calls for the ouster of Rouhani and his supporters, such as President Ahmadinejad’s son, Mojtaba. Raisi, who has been a member of Iran’s National Security Council since 2006, and is the vice-speaker of parliament, has condemned Rouhani for his foreign policy and economic policy, including the recent nuclear deal. He has called the nuclear deal a “betrayal of the Iranian people

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