Rouhani can’t use referendum in his fight with hard-liners
Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 5
By Umid Niayesh, Temkin Jafarov - Trend:
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has highlighted an article of the Iranian Constitution that proposes using public referendum for setting up regulations on certain important issues.
While during his speech on Jan.4 Rouhani refused to name any certain topic for possible referendum, experts put various issues including nuclear negotiations and economic challenges such as paying cash subsidies to people as major topics.
The future of the nuclear case and a possible nuclear agreement with west would be the greatest variant.
Professor of political science at Tehran University, Sadeq Zibakalam believes that there is no need for a referendum about paying cash subsides.
"Last year almost 73 million Iranians registered to receive the cash subsidies, so they earlier have responded to the government," Zibakalam told Trend Jan. 5.
A senior expert at Iran's Center for Strategic Research within Expediency Discernment Council of the System Jamshid Pajouyan also believes that the president's statements refer to the nuclear talks.
Rouhani was referring to the nuclear talks and negotiations in his statements, Pajouyan told Trend, adding he wants to see if people are in agreement with accepting the other side's demands during the nuclear negotiations.
Economic topics should not be referred to the referendum, Pajouyan underlined.
Rouhnai in his statements said that "as the enforcer of our constitution, I would like, even for once, to see conditions ripe to implement a tenet of the common law calling for major issues - economic, social, political and cultural - to be put to public referendum rather than parliamentary vote."
Some experts consider the statements as a warning to hardliners- who are also dominant in the parliament- that he may try to put any nuclear agreement to a public vote.
Iran's pragmatic president has faced serious challenges with hardliners in ongoing talks with six world powers to put an end to decade old disputes over the Islamic Republic's nuclear case. The hardliners argue that the results of the nuclear talks are against the Iranian people's interests so far.
The talks between Iran and the P5+1 group (the US, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany) were extended until July 1, 2015 to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
In his statements Rouhani said that people should be asked to directly vote on the issues that are of high importance for the country and have remarkable impact on their lives. However it seems that Rouhani's statements won't go beyond giving the opponents a political message.
Holding a referendum must be approved by two-thirds of the parliament majority, which is already under control of the conservatives.
Babak Ebrahimi, an Iranian political expert, told Trend that although the use of referendum is established in the Islamic Republic constitution there are different understandings about how it should be used among the political groups.
He also underlined that a referendum can not be held on just any topic according to Iran's constitution.
However the expert believes that the Rouhani's statements on the issue should be considered as a step forward in terms of democracy.
Edited by CN
Umid Niayesh is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @UmidNiayesh