Iran’s 2017 Election: The Opposition Inches Forward

Issue Date October 2017
Volume 28
Issue 4
Page Numbers 30-37
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The quest for democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a story of tiny steps forward overshadowed by heart-wrenching setbacks. The 19 May 2017 presidential election offers a window into the painful predicament of a democracy-minded society—demographically young, globally inclined, and social-media savvy—subordinated to an authoritarian polity. The reelection of Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist whose campaign had embraced reformism, scarcely dented the unwillingness of conservative forces to loosen their grip. And though fierce intraelite conflicts that began during the race have exposed cracks in the once-monolithic clerical regime, no one should underestimate the resiliency of Iran’s authoritarians or their determination to keep their grip on critical levers of power.