Tehran, March 3, IRNA -- Secretary of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Mohammad Reza Khatami, here Monday brushed aside as "baseless" a press report that he had resigned after his mainstream party suffered a serback in Friday municipal elections.
"The gentlemen, through making journalistic ballyhoo, want to portray the very low turnout in the council elections as a triumph for themselves and a failure for their opponents," he said.
On Monday, an Iranian paper wrote that Mohammad Reza had resigned at an urgent meeting of the IIPF, following the party's heavy defeat in the elections.
"It is true that the candidates of the Participation Front did not score well in the council elections, but this is not a failure for the Participation Front nor the reformists," Mohammad Reza, who is President Mohammad Khatami's brother and deputy parliament speaker, said.
He also warned of grave "consequences" of the low turnout for the Islamic Republic, although he did not specify them.
"In the future, we should anticipate the consequences of this sharp turnout decline to pop up somewhere else. In that case, not only a certain tendency, but the whole political tendencies will be harmed," Khatami said.
According to officials, 41 million Iranians were eligible to vote, but only 16 million, accounting for some 39 percent of the total electorate, cast their ballots. In Tehran, where more than five million were eligible to vote, only 12 percent attended the ballot boxes.
The low turnout was a major setback in a country which has seen warm electorate welcome since President Khatami's landslide victory in 1997.
A member of the Central Committee of the IIPF and a Tehran MP, Ali Shakouri-Rad, on Sunday accepted the defeat, but added that "the people are not disappointed with reforms yet. They are rather skeptical about the success of reforms".
An MP from Lenjan has said the reason for the tiny electorate participation must be seen in the "inefficiency of regulations and poor performance of the first city councils".
A member of the outlawed Freedom Movement of Iran, Gholamabbas Tavassoli, who was racing himself as a hopeful, said the cause of the low turnout was people's disillusionment.
The first municipal elections were held in 1999 in which reformists swept to power in a landslide victory.
Shakouri-Rad, talking to reporters after the Parliament's open session, voiced regret that in Tehran that has the most important city council only 12 percent of the people had voted in the elections, stressing that the low public turnout at the polls had been a blow to the system.
"The system carried out an election, and the result was a defeat and the people's alternative to adopt the dialogue of refusing to take part in the polls," he said.
"All those who somehow had a share in making the people take up that alternative had also a share in inflicting this blow to the system. It must be found out that to whom the people voted by refusing to cast their votes in the councils polling."
The reformist camps, the most notable of them being the IIPF, have been enjoying significant popular support in several successive national elections after the landslide victory of President Mohammad Khatami on May 23, 1997 presidential polls.
Still, reports on the outcomes of the last Friday councils polling manifest a humiliating defeat for the reformists, who are generally branded as the May 23 (Second of Khordad) Front. Analysts believe that the public frustration with the reformists prompted the defeat.
Shakouri-Rad said the May 23 Front seemed to be unable to succeed in political rivalries, adding that the front needed to become a party to push forward its campaigns.
"The front has already proved that it does not have the ability to accept political responsibilities because it has missed many opportunities over the recent years," he said.
"Still, the people are not disappointed with reforms. They are rather skeptical about the success of reforms."
Shakouri-Rad described as "very different" the performance of reformists after the May 23, 1997 national presidential elections.
He said the results of the second local councils elections had been unexpected, stressing that this might happen again in the country's future national elections.
"The Iranian authorities should take this into consideration and should do more in their struggle to satisfy the demands of the people," Shakouri-Rad said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the IIPF member said the facilities of the right camp in the local council elections were beyond those of a party.
Shakouri-Rad stressed that the reformists considered safeguarding the republicanism of the system and democracy as the most important duties of all authorities.
... Payvand News - 3/3/03 ... --