Senior Iranian reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh says reformists should refrain from participating in any election that is not fully open, as a way of challenging its legitimacy.
Tajzadeh, a member of the banned reformist parties the Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, told the Kaleme opposition website that there is no “middle ground” and reformists can only take part in the election if it is completely free and open.
The interview, which took place during Tajzadeh’s furlough from Evin Prison in June, has come to the forefront of an ongoing public and media debate over the participation of reformists in the coming parliamentary elections.
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, also considered a chief reformist figure, had previously set conditions for reformist participation in elections: all political prisoners must be released and banned political parties must be able to operate freely and openly.
In this vein, he has called for opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be released from house arrest and also for the provision of all “basic and civil liberties.”
Tajzadeh stressed in his interview that the establishment should be given no other option than to hold free and open elections.
He added that if conservative factions do not allow for reformist participation in the elections, they will only fall into deeper disputes among themselves.
Tajzadeh is referring to the rising tensions between supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other conservative factions that have surfaced in the past months.
Tajzadeh also indicated that prior to the 2009 presidential election, he believed that reformists had to participate in each election at all cost and should try to maintain at least a minority in Parliament. He adds, however, that “the narrative of the Green Movement has changed the whole affair…either the elections should be free with all the parities, or we should not participate and should leave them to play out the conflicts among themselves.”
The reformists allege that the 2009 presidential election was rigged to secure the victory of Mahmoud Ahamdinejad. The establishment rejects the allegation and has cracked down on reformists and millions of street protesters. Numerous top reformists figures currently are serving heavy prison terms for their role in the post-election protests, which have come to be known as the Green Movement.
Two years after the political crisis, many conservative politicians now speak of inviting “moderate” reformists to run in the coming election.
Most recently, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, said only those reformists who have not “crossed the red lines” can return to the political arena.
Jaffari’s statements have been challenged by another top reformist, Mohammadreza Khatami, who reminded Islamic Republic authorities that the constitution forbids the interference of military organs in Iranian politics.