Who should be the Next President in Iran?
Ali Asghar Kazemi
May 20, 2009
Almost three weeks away from the presidential elections in Iran, I have been asked by my students to give them some hints and advices regarding the most suitable candidate in the race. While I have my own personal views and preferences about the potential contenders, I feel very much reluctant to take side in public forum in favor of any of them at this particular point of time. Since, I believe, my duty as an academic is to shed light on the common traits of the would-be president in the present political and international environment of our country, rather than to speak in favor of any particular candidate.
In my previous comments regarding the presidential elections, I have listed a number of reasons for which people of various layers of the society may fell indifferent to participate in the process. Those considerations could still be valid as long as candidates do not explicitly clarify their positions with respect of a number of critical issues entailing the country and their concrete measures and policies to cure them. These issues encompass all sectors of the society including, social, economic, political, strategic, legal, environmental etc.
Of course, as I mentioned before, the president is not powerful enough to bring all the changes we might envisage. But, the least that he can achieve is to demonstrate his determination for change and to assure people of his resolve to cope with many socio-political malaises which inhibit the overall trend of the country towards democracy, human rights, justice and equity.
Here are some main points in my humble view to be considered in our choice of the next president for Iran:
1) Before anything, the president should be a person who is mentally sound and without prejudice of any kind. Since, once elected, he will be the president of all people disregard of their beliefs, religious preference, political tendency, economic status or social standing. As the symbol of national identity, he should represent the whole and not a fraction of nation in international scene. He should realize that from the minute he becomes president his words, behavior, attitude, manners and the overall world views become under scrutiny inside and outside the country.
2) Our country has a long history of tyranny, authoritarian rules and repression. The president should exercise to keep away from those historical syndromes by being restraint, tolerant, broadminded and forward thinking. He should avoid the temptation of using malicious instruments at hand for revenging his political opponents. These require that he should be accountable and be open to critique even if it comes from the opposition groups.
3) The president is not supposed to have full knowledge about all the sophistication and subtleties of economics, politics, military and legal matters, but, he must be intelligent and receptive enough to get the advices from the elites, intellectuals, academics, scholars and specialists in various fields. The president should be experienced and humble enough not to be mired by the power of the office or become overwhelmed and exalted by the authority bestowed to him by the nation.
4) Thus, he should avoid favoritism, discrimination and intolerance and in all instances he should think of our national interests, our prestige, history and stature of the country. He may be a fine, compassionate and generous person, but as a president, he is not allowed to give out the wealth of the country to dubious and questionable groups and movements outside the country; neither is he supposed to provide money to people for the sake of his own popularity.
5) The president should govern the country on the basis of wisdom, rationality and according to collective wills and interests. He is responsible for the security of our country, thus, he should avoid turning our potential friends into foes by taking unnecessary positions on critical issues. He should capture opportunities through appropriate policies and actions to neutralize threats; to turn our rivals into associates and to transform our enemies into friends.
The above characteristics are only few important traits of a typical president that we should look for in the next elections. Of course, it is extremely difficult to find all those features in one particular candidate, but, we have to elect the one who is relatively in a better position than the others to the best of our knowledge.
We should use our constituent power not to allow demagogues and obsessive personalities to unduly ascend to the office of the president in Iran. Because, our nation merits a much higher status in the present world order and our people deserves a much better condition of life than what we experienced during the past years. Despite all the encumbrances and shortcomings we have in our political institutions and legal system, there is little doubt that we can achieve our demands and objectives in the years to come, provided we use our collective power to change the situation before it is too late. /
Ali Asghar Kazemi is Professor of Law and International Relations in Tehran- Iran. For detail see: www.aakazemi.blogspot.com