Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mehdi Karoubi, former Majlis speaker, has formally established his new political party: E'temad-e Melli (National Trust). Addressing the would-be party members, Karoubi has highlighted the 'critique of power' as a major priority.

There is something exotic about this title. There was a time when everything bearing the term 'national' would be changed into ‘Islamic’. national consultancy assembly (Majlis) was changed into Islamic consultancy assembly and the national aviation company was re-named as Aviation of the Islamic Republic. But now, it seems, nationalist sentiment is increasing as a strategy to unify a fragmented society. A party whose majority is composed of former revolutionary and Islamists have chosen such a title as national trust. Thus, Karoubi wants to create trust. How? By offering opportunities for the 'critique of power', that is, by upsetting the pillars of the totalitarian authority. He acknowledges that the behaviour of the institutions of power is producing dangerous impact on people in terms of trusting their rulers. This kind of acknowledgment, however implicit, by a political party is unprecedented in Post(and pre) Revolution era.

Admittedly, it is too early to invest hope in Karoubi's party. It is still unclear how far it is willing to go in its critique of power and what dimensions and institutions of power it will address. Be it as it may, what has to be valued at this early stage is the very consciousness among influential figures such as Karoubi (and perhaps Rafsanjani) as to the danger caused by the growingly deep division between the centre of power and the Iranian populace.

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