Iranians at odds as succession looms

Iranian supreme leader Khamenei attends President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in
Aug. 3, 2017: Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) gives his seal of approval during the swearing-in of President Hassan Rouhani (R) for a second term (source: dpa)
  • Iranian moderates win elections, but religious conservatives hold the real power
  • In Iran’s polarized politics, supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei is dominant but ailing
  • As a succession crisis looms, renewed U.S. pressure may bolster the conservatives

On May 19, 2017, Hassan Rouhani was reelected to a second four-year term as president of Iran. The election turnout, at 73 percent, was just as impressive as the 57 percent support that President Rouhani received. The message delivered by the voters seemed clear: a large majority wanted Mr. Rouhani’s policies continued. But what exactly are those policies? And how do ordinary Iranians expect them to be implemented?

A look at Iran’s domestic situation is sobering and utterly at odds with the euphoria among President Rouhani’s supporters. The sharp polarization of political and ideological camps has resulted in stagnation and paralysis, both in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

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