Last week, an incredible thing happened in Iran — at least that’s what’s emerging in the reports from the region.
Allies close to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a landslide victory in Tehran, winning all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital city. It’s being called a major victory for reformists in the Islamic republic where hardliners usually reign supreme, in every sense of the word.
It was the first parliamentary vote since Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
As huge as the apparent victory of the reformists is, some experts are skeptical about the results.
Millions of Iranians voted, with more than a 60 percent turnout, on Feb. 26 to elect members for the two most important government bodies: the 290-seat parliament and the Assembly of Experts. The latter is more important since the 88-member assembly is responsible for choosing Iran's supreme leader, who is eventually responsible for making all the important political decisions.
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Latest poll results essentially mean the reformists could have a say in electing the most important political figure of the country — which is, again, incredible since this role has mostly been played by hardliners, especially clerics, in Iran.
That’s exactly why some are questioning if reformists actually won the elections.
"This was a win by centrists — particularly President Rouhani — with some reformist window dressing," geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer, president of the political risk firm Eurasia Group, told Business Insider.
Also, it cannot be said with certainty if the so-called elected reformists close to the president will be able to make a significant difference since a lot of hot-button issues, such as women’s rights and human rights in general, have remained the same, if not worsened, over the past three years under Rouhani.
For instance, from January 2015 to November 2015, Amnesty International recorded 830 executions in Iran, with the majority being related to narcotics, involving questionable trials.
Iranian hardliners might have lost the elections, but real change can only be judged based on the newly elected officials’ policies.