1159 GMT February 22, 2018
Political groups are exploring avenues to attract public attention while less than three months remain until the presidential elections.
Facts on the ground indicate that supporters of the government and reformists have arrived at a consensus to introduce incumbent President Hassan Rouhani as their nominee for the May 19 vote. However, Rouhani’s rivals still remain divided as they have failed to agree on a single candidate.
Conservatives have considered different options over the past months. However, none of these options has managed to draw great attention because a glance at public opinion shows that such selections will not succeed in overcoming Rouhani in the presidential election.
Although government supporters and reformists are determined to throw their weight behind Rouhani, conservatives are suffering from a deep division.
Presently, conservatives have large differences between themselves. The differences, which began a decade ago, have been highlighted. This has been manifested in their incapability to achieve a consensus on a single candidate for the presidential election.
Once Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, some conservative groups began to distance themselves from his polices, which paved the ground for creating divisions among them. Ahmadinejad’s approach alienated moderate conservatives who believed that the then president’s stances undermined the country’s political and economic principles. During his eight-year presidency, conservatives established new parties and fronts.
Conservatives failed to nominate a single candidate for the 2013 presidential election, which contributed to the victory of Rouhani with over fifty percent of the vote.
Based on Rouhani’s promises in his presidential campaign, his government has adopted policies based on prudence and wisdom, which have pushed certain renowned conservative figures to back his approach.
Meanwhile, some conservatives believe since they have no candidate capable of beating Rouhani, they should introduce several nominees to reduce the incumbent president’s votes. This is aimed at extending the election to a run-off. Nonetheless, the ideal plan for the majority of conservatives is to reach a consensus on a single candidate.
*Ayat Qaisar-Beigi is a political analyst.