ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mandate for Reform in Iran

The decisive victory of the reformist Participation Front coalition headed by president Mohammed Khatami in the recent elections, particularly his popularity amongst the students has confirmed that Iran is heading towards positive and fundamental changes in its political and social life. It is also more open in its foreign relations, though the US has hardened its stand.

The decisive victory of the reformist and leftist coalition of the Participation Front is a turning point in the history of Iran. It is an affirmation of a revolution of expectations. For president Mohammed Khatami, the election results are a clear mandate to act on his pledge to refashion Iran from an insular country of disjointed and competing ruling elites into a democratic state ruled by a clear set of constitutional laws. Khatami’s election in 1997 had opened the way for the liberalisation of Iran’s social and political life, but had been unable to achieve fundamental changes mainly because of opposition from the dominant sections of the clergy. The election gave birth to the social movement Khordad 2 on May 23, the day of election of president Khatami that has spearheaded reforms in Iran.

While the movement gathered momentum, it met with stiff resistance from the establishment which created a series of crises in an attempt to block social and political reforms and protect its own privileges. The year 1999 saw major events that shook the Iranian society. In February, Khatami fulfilled his campaign promise to hold Iran’s first local elections. At one stroke 2,00,000 democratically elected officials entered the country’s political structure. The religious authorities frantically tried to block the candidacy of the Khordad candidates. The election to the local bodies made it abundantly clear that in a relatively open electoral process the reform movement would win.

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