Highlights of the week
- 2012 elections: lists of candidates for conservatives released; division in conservative camp now an established fact
- Government submits state budget for Majles approval; security budget up by 127 percent
- Cardboard-made revolution: controversy over ceremony marking anniversary of Supreme Leader’s return to Iran
- Iran needs to attack Israel by 2014, Iranian blogger says
- Iran condemns Samsung over Israeli TV commercial
- Pictures of the week: student Basij members demonstrate in front of the Majles demanding to stop the export of Iranian oil to Europe
2012 elections: lists of candidates for conservatives released;
division in conservative camp now an established fact
This week the two main fronts in the conservative camp, the United Osulgarayan Front and the Steadfast Front, released their lists of candidates in Tehran Province for the upcoming Majles elections slated for March 2.
The United Front’s list of candidates in Tehran Province (represented by 30 of the current 290 Majles members) includes 30 candidates, some of whom are Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, former Majles speaker; Ahmad Tavakoli, chairman of the Majles Research Center; Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, deputy Majles speaker; Esma’il Kowsari, deputy chairman of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee; Parviz Sorouri, chairman of the Majles Internal Security Committee; and Mas’oud Mir-Kazemi, former petroleum minister. The list includes six women.
The list does not include three currently-serving conservative Majles members who are considered some of President Ahmadinejad’s strongest critics: Ali Motahari, Hamid-Reza Katouzian, and Ali Abbaspour. After the list was published, Ali Motahari announced his intention to run in a separate list called Critics of the Tenth Government (i.e., Ahmadinejad’s government). If Motahari does field his own list, at least three separate lists on behalf of the conservative camp will run in Tehran Province.
The Steadfast Front also released its list of candidates in Tehran Province. It consists of 20 candidates, including Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel and Mas’oud Mir-Kazemi (two of the five candidates shared by the Steadfast Front and the Osulgarayan Front); Mohammad-Nasser Saghaye Biria, President Ahmadinejad’s former advisor on religious affairs; Hojjat-ol-Eslam Qassem Ravanbakhsh, a student of radical cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi; Fatemeh Alya, a member of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee; and Mohammad Soleimani, former telecommunications minister.
Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani, one of the clerics who support the United Osulgarayan Front, speculated this week that the chances of the two conservative fronts reaching an agreement on a joint list of candidates are slim.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Reza Khatami, a senior reformist figure and brother of former President Mohammad Khatami, announced that the reformist bloc has no intention of running in the coming elections and that the independent participation of several candidates who refer to themselves as “reformists” does not mean that the reformist bloc is taking part in the elections. In an interview to the daily Roozegar, which was consequently shut down for one month by the authorities, Khatami said that the election results are predetermined.
In the next several days the Guardian Council is expected to release the final list of candidates it has approved for the elections. Last weekend the council’s spokesman said that it has approved more than 3,000 of the 5,395 candidates who registered for the elections.
Government submits state budget for Majles approval; security budget up by 127 percent
Last Wednesday, February 1, with a delay of almost two months, President Ahmadinejad submitted the budget proposal for the next Iranian year (1391, 2012-2013) to the approval of the Majles. The annual budget amounts to 510,000 billion rials (over 415 billion dollars), reflecting a slight decrease in the government’s routine expenses and a considerable 127%-increase in security expenses. The budget proposal is based on an estimated 85 dollars per barrel of oil and 1,150 tomans per dollar.