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How Iran’s Hard-Liners Got Campaign Boost From Trump

Hassan Rouhani.

Hassan Rouhani.

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg
Updated on

As Iran’s president since 2013, Hassan Rouhani has sought to be a force of moderation in the country, rolling back his predecessor’s populist economic policies and confrontational approach to foreign relations. His tenure runs until mid-2021, but Iran’s parliamentary elections Feb. 21 marked the beginning of the end of Rouhani’s brand of politics in Iran. Hard-liners and ultra conservatives won a decisive victory in the vote, securing a majority in parliament.

While political parties exist in Iran, they’re not formally represented in parliament. Instead, there are two broad political factions -- reformists and principlists -- with varying shades of orthodoxy within each group. Parliament had been dominated by a coalition of reformists, moderates and pragmatic conservatives since the last vote in 2016, which bolstered Rouhani and his cabinet. Now, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency, the principlist faction has taken more than 220 of the 290 seats. It contains Iran’s most right-wing, religious and hard-line politicians, who tend to prioritize the country’s security apparatus and theocratic leadership above all else. They mostly oppose engagement with the West and tend to be deeply hostile to the U.S.