Iran: Victims of Their Success

The reform movement in Iran had been gathering momentum for a decade, in a bid to institutionalise democracy

The World Today Published 1 March 2001 Updated 9 November 2020 4 minute READ

Professor Ali Ansari

Professor of Iranian History and Founding Director, Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews

Reformists argue that this would fulfil the promise of the Islamic Revolution. The movement was catapulted to political prominence and international recognition in 1997 with the surprise landslide election victory of President Mohammad Khatami. Despite considerable opposition, under the President’s effective leadership it was able to consolidate the foundations of civil society, largely by establishing of a vigorous press. In last year’s elections reformists seized control of the parliament. This dramatic success triggered the latest and most repressive reaction by conservatives, determined to stop reform.

The reform movement has been under severe pressure since its triumphant victory in the sixth Majlis (Parliamentary) elections in February 2000. Far from being the harbinger of imminent change however, the reformists, have become, in a very real sense, victims of their own success.

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