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Has Rouhani failed his constituents?


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in the final year of his administration and speculation is rife about figures from across the political spectrum lining up to replace him before next year’s polls.

Whether Rouhani’s successor will be a moderate like himself who will tread the tortuous path of reform in a conservative society or a hardliner who will radically transform the nation’s trajectory in the realms of economy, foreign policy, defense, security and its social outlook in a marked departure from Rouhani’s modus operandi is a valid question, but needs to be debated closer to the campaign season.

What is of substance at this moment is critical scrutiny of President Rouhani’s performance, who rose to prominence thanks to the unconditional support of the reformist factions and parties, as well as what influential progressive icons such as former president Mohammad Khatami threw behind him, securing him two easy landslide victories in the 2013 and 2017 presidential contests.

Now, as the “diplomat sheikh” – the nickname Rouhani’s fans have bestowed upon him as a testament to his role in solidifying Iran’s foreign relations when he was the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council between 1989 and 2005 – prepares to step down, he is facing public impeachment on the extent to which he has been able to deliver his promises and win the approval of his base, which is mostly the young, educated middle-class Iranians living in large cities.

Many Iranians are now asking this pungent question on social media and on the streets: “Have we a mistake by voting for Rouhani?” For many of them, the answer is a resounding yes.


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