In an unexpected move that is causing a major split at the ruling “United Principlist Front” (UPF), the central committee of the conservative coalition today eliminated three prominent members from its list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The UPF announced the current lawmakers Ali Motahari, Ali Abbaspour and Hamid Reza Katouzian will not be endorsed as its candidates to run for the Ninth Majlis elections on 2 March.
The three lawmakers, all from Tehran, immediately formed a new coalition named “Government Critics” and announced that they will put forward their own lists for the capital city and other jurisdictions shortly. During the current Majlis, these three members were among the fiercest critics of Ahmadinejad administration.
The creation of “Government Critics” (GC) further complicates the parliamentary race. Many voters especially hold Ali Motahari in high regards for his independence, and political analysts in Tehran now believe that a large number of pro-reformist voters that were expected to boycott the elections might now participate and cast their votes for Motahari and his GC lists in large cities, giving them a chance to come on top in Tehran and some other major cities.
Aside from the UPF and now the GC, there is the Resistance Front (RF), an ultraconservative coalition headed by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. The RF has announced that it will present its lists for most of the jurisdictions later this week. The RF is expected to do well in rural and smaller towns, but suffer in Tehran and large cities for lack of name recognition of its expected candidates and the opposition to its ultraconservative policies.
The reformists are not fielding any candidates, but many of pro-reform voters could cast their votes against the establishment candidates fielded by UPF, especially now that they have a choice to vote for the GC candidates. The Mashaie Coalition might also do well as a result of the split at UPF.