WANA (June 24) – Iranian social media has gone viral with a picture of Former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani tying a necktie for Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian. This resembles the idea that the Pezeshkian administration will be “Rouhani’s third term.”


Pezeshkian says, “I’m not the third Rouhani government,” his fellow Reformists try their best to distance the cardiac surgeon from Rouhani and his administration. Reformists argue that Pezeshkian had no role in Rouhani’s administration and was not involved in any decision-making whatsoever.


So why are they trying to do that?


During Rouhani’s administration, Iran experienced the worst oil production and exports situation. On one occasion, former vice president Ishaq Jahangiri said, “2020 was even more difficult than the years of the Iran-Iraq war”. This, however, changed during the late Iran president Ebrahim Raisi, and the country started selling oil in better volume. Also, economic growth during Rouhani shrank in numbers and reached nearly zero. Inflation during his tenure reached a record high of almost 60%, and the list of failures never ended.


What is their strategy to convince voters?


Reformists say the president they supported for two terms was not a “True Reformist,” and they supported Rouhani just because he defeated conservatives. After Rouhani won the presidency in 2013, he chose several ministers and other officials who were not considered “good enough” for the Reformist camp ideologically. The same strategy of “he was not one of us” continues.


Now, Pezeshkian has repeatedly said that his government will be similar to the administration of Former President Mohammad Khatami, whom Reformists see as a “spiritual father.” During a Presidential debate aired on National television, Pezeshkian said, “I was the minister of Khatami’s government in terms of economy. Go and check if the situation was better then or now”.”

WANA - Zakani sayin pezeshkian is the third Rouhani government in debate

WANA – Zakani sayin pezeshkian is the third Rouhani government in debate

Khatami or another Rouhani?


Based on the people present in Pezeshkian’s election campaign teams, the weight is much higher on Rouhani’s side. Former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Former Minister of Information and Communication Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, and the list goes on and on. In defense of himself for appointing Rouhani administration officials, Pezeshkian said, “Whoever wants can join my election campaign teams because I want to get votes.”


Other than people, the slogans and rhetoric that Pezeshkian uses are much more similar to what Rouhani said during his election campaign in 2013. Political and social freedoms, Hijab, Internet, Economy, Sanctions, Negotiations with West and other similar issues are the topics that can be found in any Pezeshkian interview or public appearance.


It is the first time since the Khatami administration that all Reformist factions have unanimously backed a single candidate. Also, many Reformists who, like Zarif, were not involved in domestic politics have started backing Pezeshkian. The Front is using all its capacities to promote Pezeshkian in any way possible. It seems that the reason behind making similarities between Khatami and Pezeshkian is the Reformists’ bet on people’s “forgetfulness,” especially the younger generation, who has no idea of those times.


However, a simple Google search by anyone will show how the Khatami administration failed to improve the livelihoods of the poor and middle class in Iran. Also, having Khatami’s backing is not a good reason for winning, and this failed once and may fail again. During the 2005 presidential election, Khatami supported Mostafa Moeen as his favored candidate, but he finished the race in fifth position with 4 million votes.


By WANA writer