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Iran’s Hardliners Clash Over Presidential Election Loss

Iran’s hardliners are facing significant internal conflicts following their loss in the recent presidential election. The election saw millions of voters shifting their support to reformist president-elect Masoud Pezeshkian, creating friction among the hardliners.

Iran’s hardliners, including Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Saeed Jalili, are at odds. Ghalibaf, the speaker of parliament, and the more radical Jalili, both refused to withdraw from the race to consolidate support behind a single candidate. This decision has led to increased acrimony among their supporters.

Ghalibaf, seen as the regime’s preferred candidate, faced unexpected competition when the authorities allowed reformist Pezeshkian to run. This led to Pezeshkian’s surprising victory, marking a significant shift in voter sentiment.

Supporters of Ghalibaf accuse Jalili of exaggerating his popularity and his claims of having comprehensive plans for governance. In contrast, Jalili’s supporters criticize Ghalibaf for his performance in previous elections and accuse his associates of corruption and living luxuriously, far from the ideals of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The power struggle within the hardline camp is expected to continue, especially in parliament, as they lack strong unifying leaders. This internal discord among Iran’s hardliners was exacerbated by their mishandling of the economy and strategic errors, such as not promoting younger candidates.

Despite strong backing from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s hardliners’ failure to address economic issues like inflation has fueled public discontent. The victory of Pezeshkian, who secured 16.3 million votes, signals a demand for change among the electorate.

Pezeshkian aims to bridge the gap between hardliners and reformists, promoting a sense of unity while addressing key issues like the nuclear standoff and easing social restrictions. However, hardliners are likely to resist significant changes, maintaining control over parliament and the judiciary.

The recent imprisonment of lawyer and rights activist Mohsen Borhani highlights the challenges Pezeshkian may face in implementing reforms. If hardliner pressure limits potential changes, it could lead to social unrest, as the public’s patience wears thin.

Pezeshkian’s presidency represents a strategic move by the supreme leader to navigate the country’s current challenges while aiming for a more efficient and flexible system.


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