According to Fresh Business Thinking. an online resource for business owners, directors and entrepreneurs  May 17th will see the next Iranian presidential election – and the result really matters to us in the west more than that of the recent one in France, etc.  In this context of Iran elections bearing on renewed business enthusiasts, we would like to propose this article of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs who Emailed me this note on what’s going on in Iran’s presidential elections. It does elaborate fairly well on what matters most not only for the country’s citizens but also for everyone around.

This time next week we will know – we know whether the President of Iran is the reformist current president Hassan Rouhani, or someone else, most likely Ebrahim Raisi, a former judge who sat on what was called ‘death commissions.’ There is a third serious contender, the debonair Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Will ‘Resistance’ Carry the Day in Iran’s Election?

Sanam Vakil , Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme

In the run up to Iran’s presidential election on 19 May, the idea of ‘resistance’ has become a key theme. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei set the tone in his annual Persian New Year address in March by declaring the coming year the ‘Year of the Resistance Economy’, a term that has been reiterated by conservative candidates who also speak of ‘the axis of resistance’ and ‘Islamic resistance’. But exactly what is Iran supposed to be resisting?

Resistance is not a new concept in the Islamic Republic. Indeed, since the 1979 revolution, conservative politicians have continued to invoke the concept of ‘resistance’ to exploit popular fears of Western meddling in Iranian affairs. The narrative of resistance has also stoked the spirit of Iranian nationalism and independence inspired by the words of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for Iran to be dependent on ‘neither East nor West’. The Supreme Leader and conservative politicians have long used the narrative of economic and political resistance as a means to preserve Iranian autonomy.

 

‘The Supreme Leader and conservative candidates are playing on old fears of international interference in an attempt to see off reform in the Islamic Republic.’

Enmity with the United States and by extension Israel is also tied to a national concept of resistance. Over the years, this national spirit has been used to justify Tehran’s unconventional foreign policy of supporting proxy groups as well as to provide support for its nuclear program. Resistance takes the form of political, revolutionary, social, cultural, economic and foreign resistance to change and interference from abroad all of which would result in the erosion of power. Ultimately, resistance is about protecting and preserving the Islamic Republic and its revolutionary ideals that have been gradually loosing sway and giving way to notions of reform from within.

In the upcoming election, this notion of reform is personified by the incumbent president centrist Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani’s main achievement in office has been the nuclear pact with the P5+1, which compromised on developing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from grueling economic sanctions, including an embargo on Iranian oil sales. But while investment has trickled in and economic growth has returned, albeit at a limited rate, Rouhani has struggled to translate growth into tangible popular economic gains. This has left him vulnerable to conservative attack…