Azar Mansouri, secretary general of the reformist Unity of the Nation Party, has told Khabar Online website that last year’s presidential poll was “meaningless.”

Mansouri, the first woman to lead an Iranian party said the election was “a turning point…as the regime completely ignored the need for people's participation at such an important juncture and barred many candidates from running.”

The watchdog Guardian Council set a field of five candidates for the June 2021, excluding the best-known reformists from the poll, which was won by Ebrahim Raisi with 72 percent of the votes.

“When nobody wants a maximum turnout, reformists will not have a chance to run, let alone win in the election,” she said. “However, if we ever get a chance to run, we must invest in the votes of women and the younger generation of Iranians.”

Mansouri reiterated the notion, which she aired in an earlier interview with Nameh News, that reformists should use the coming period to consolidate their role in society, “seek the people's trust and be their voice and give up the idea of grabbing political power for a while."

Being chosen as leader reflected the “political maturity” of a party where 85 percent of members were men, Mansouri said. Opponents had tried to “tarnish my image by mudslinging and through disinformation,” she noted, with Mashregh News trying to convince readers “that I am an illiterate housewife.”

Mansouri also said that people feel deeply disappointed that their country lags in global and regional developmental trends.

Rouhani’s failure

In an interview Cheshmandaz magazine, the party’s former leader Ali Shakouri Rad said that President Hassan Rouhani, who held office from 2013 and was ineligible in 2021 to seek a third consecutive term, had not developed a good relationship with reformists, despite the electoral support they gave him.

“During the eight years of his presidency, reformists had the chance to see him [Rouhani] once a year on the occasion of Ramadan,” Shakouri Rad said. “His behavior as president eroded the remnants of reformists’ trust in him...Rouhani's performance during his first term as president is still defendable. But in the second term, Rouhani's ties with reformists were severed after his first six months in office. He destroyed his own career and our social capital.”

While Rouhani’s strategy for attracting international investment and cooperation, especially in energy, was undone by the United States leaving the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposing draconian sanctions, Shakouri Rad highlighted the role of Rouhani’s brother.

"Rouhani's weak point was his brother Hossein Fereydoun who was behind the former president's failure and frustration after he was arrested in 2018 [on corruption charges],” Shakouri Rad said. “Everything ended for Rouhani after his brother ended up in jail."

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