Iran’s ‘Headless Society’ Has No Way Out Of Political Impasse, Media Say

Media not aligned with the ruling hardliners in Iran warn that there are no opinion leaders left in the country that people can trust, creating a dangerous vacuum.

Media not aligned with the ruling hardliners in Iran warn that there are no opinion leaders left in the country that people can trust, creating a dangerous vacuum.

Many do not trust hardliners because they have manipulated elections and created a monopoly of power, and reformists have been discredited because of their inability to make a difference in major decisions in the past two decades.

The warning comes as the most important reformist political figure, former President Mohammad Khatami intends to withdraw from all political activities, including offering his opinions or endorsing any politician or election. Khatami has been banned from political appearances and public speeches for many years. Even his photos are banned in the media.

Recently there were reports that Khatami and a few other polticians seemd to be regrouping to offer an alternative to the current political situation.

According to moderate conservative website Khabar Online, the reason for the shift is the decline in the popularity of political groups and parties, as well as “engineered” elections that have gradually eliminated any group that voters could turn to for political insight and guidance.

The website pointed to Khatami’s decision to withdraw from politics, saying that those who still had an inkling of hope in reforms have lost their main point of reference.

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami

Khabar Online warned that “A headless society will be a menace for Iran’s political future.” This is a reference to the lack of intellectual and political leadership in the country while a totalitarian ruling system is monopolizing all institutions in Iran.

In the 2020 parliamentary elections and the 2021 presidential vote, the regime’s power centers controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ruled out the candidacy of everyone other than hardline conservatives. The decision led to a parliament of everyone for himself rather than a single body of hardliners who were expected to speak in one voice. And in the presidential election, it was clear long before voting that regime insider Ebrahim Raisi would be the winner.

Khabar Online says this has led the people to no longer trust any political party and refuse to acknowledge the leadership role of political groups and parties as their point of reference. As a result, there is no one play a leading role in the society during turbulent times.

Social networks, such as unofficial trade unions, have to an extent replaced influential and trusted political groups. But although they have proved to be popular at times, the sensational nature of their activities prevented them from garnering true political support, Khabar Online wrote. This explains why protests by vocational groups including teachers and steel workers failed to turn into a strong political movement.

The website added that this situation has led to destructive consequences. The public has lost trust in government and politics, political groups have become weak and political elites of the regime have lost credibility.

Meanwhile, reformist newspaper Sharq wrote in a report about the same topic that was also carried by proreform website Fararu. The report argued that both the reformists and conservatives in Iran have lost their status as points of reference for voters and political activists, mainly because they fail to respond to the people’s real problems.

Sharq argued that since 1979, all the political debates in Iran dealt with the dichotomy between “the status quo” and “the ideal situation.” This was the source of all conflicts between the left and right. But the non-competitive 2021 presidential vote and Raisi’s victory put an end to any pretence of political activism and competition within the regime. “This has dramatically changed Iran’s political scene,” Sharq wrote.

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