Will Hassan Rouhani bring change in Iran?

By Kamna Arora | Updated: Jun 19, 2013, 08:28 AM IST

Kamna Arora

Intellects call him anti-Ahmadinejad, however, 64-year-old Hassan Rouhani had many accomplishments to flaunt before he rose to be the President of Islamic Republic of Iran. Known for his role as Iran`s top nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, Rouhani is considered to be a moderate and had previously served as a military commander and deputy speaker of Parliament.

Importantly, Rouhani is the representative of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the National Security Council. He is also a member of the Discernment Council and the Assembly of Experts, which elects the Ayatollah.

His habit of answering the question rather than throwing a tirade is markedly different from his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s verbal diatribes that had hurt Iran`s image immensely in global community.

The post of President in Iran is neither ceremonial nor authoritative. Subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the President controls a number of ministries and looks after budgets - It`s more a domestic-centric.

Post his victory over the six candidates approved by Iran`s Guardian Council, the cleric - deemed to be the lone moderate choice successfully garnered 50.7 percent of the votes. His victory, beyond doubt, symbolises the hope and the change Iranians are seeking. The June 14 Presidential Election was important as it was the first since the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2009 that had stirred up massive street protests.

Notably, Rouhani is well known for his criticism of Iran`s domestic as well as foreign policy. Hence, his triumph tells a lot about how Iranians want to see their country`s domestic and international policy shaped. Like elsewhere in the developing world, Iranians too are battling rising in prices and unemployment as the country`s economy is in shambles partly because of US sanctions.

His promise of better management at home and moderation in external ties found favour with Iranians, who were seemingly tired of economy mismanagement at home and US sanctions. Rouhani`s criticism of censorship and state interference in people`s private lives helped him connect well with Iranians, who are facing heightened social as well as political restrictions.

Notably, it was during Rouhani`s role as a nuclear negotiator in 2003 that Iran agreed to suspend the country`s uranium enrichment program. He is deemed to be someone who believes in the power of a serious dialogue.

The Iran`s President-elect has vowed to try to be more "transparent" as far as nuclear issue is concerned to "build confidence".

"Firstly, Iran will display more transparency to tell the world that it is doing within the international regulations. And secondly, we will increase the confidence between Iran and the world," Rouhani said during his first press conference after assuming the high office.

However, the fact remains that the fulfillment of Rouhani`s campaign promises will depend on his ties with Khamenei and Parliament.

According to observers, Rouhani could be relied upon to bring some change. Karim Sadjadpour, a senior analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, "After eight years of darkness, the clouds of extremism could soon begin to part, however slightly".