July 25, 2021

“The presidential election in Iran will mark the victory of a minority”

At 64 years old, Mostafa Tajzadeh, former vice-minister of the interior under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), is a figure of the reformist current. Imprisoned between 2009 and 2016, he saw his candidacy for the presidential election of June 18 rejected. Denouncing a vote which will consecrate the victory of a minority, he calls without taboos for radical reforms in Iran.

What do you think of the conditions under which this election is taking place and will you vote?

The result is predetermined and it is in fact the representative of a minority in the country who will be elected president. During the previous election, Ebrahim Raïssi [le candidat ultraconservateur] got 16 million votes and he lost. If he gets 18 million on Friday, he will be at the same level of popular support. I don’t even think he will get them. His election is a coup d’etat. That the will of a minority is imposed on the majority is an insult to the Iranian people.

What, in your opinion, is the plan for the regime and what will happen after Mr Raïssi’s accession to the presidency?

The Supreme Guide will decide on his succession. This electoral “coup” aims to put all the powers in the hands of the conservatives when Ali Khamenei takes over. And Mr. Raïssi is potentially the next Guide. Looking back, apart from the first three years of the Revolution, there were no free elections in Iran. But some competition was at least allowed in controlled elections.

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This is not even the case this time. They not only attacked the reformers, but they also disqualified and rejected any candidates who could carry weight. Even someone like [l’ancien président ultraconservateur] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was dismissed. They therefore want to centralize power in the hands of the conservatives alone with a view to appointing the future Supreme Leader. Knowing that we are talking here of ultra-conservatives, and not of so-called “moderate” conservatives.

How to define the regime today?

Until now, part of the power has been shared between conservatives and reformers. The center of gravity now slides completely towards the corps of the Revolutionary Guards, the group directly led by the Supreme Leader. Those who are called the “conservatives” will themselves end up being sidelined. If the balance of power is in its favor, the group formed around the Revolutionary Guards will suppress the very principle of elections. But there are disagreements and contradictions between conservative forces that support Mr. Raïssi and the Revolutionary Guards. I think these contradictions will eventually come to light. A conflict between them is likely.

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