A grand coalition of democracy activists, pro-reform clerics, parties loyal to former president Khatami and the so-called pragmatic conservatives of Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Is planning to use the ballot box to deny Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second presidential term.... Unless the move is vetoed by the hardline Guardian Council which is a definite possibility
The alliance is mining to exploit the president's unpopularity, arising from high unemployment, rising inflation and an expected rise in petrol prices, to win control of the Majlis in general elections which are due within 10 months.
"The past two years have been a very bitter time for Iran," said Mohammad Atrianfar, a leading opposition figure "Ahmadinejad has done everything upside down. He has done a lot of damage at home and abroad." Mr Atrianfar said that a majority in the Majlis was now critical of the president and would certainly impeach him but for the support he enjoyed from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The president has faced mounting over high unemployment, especially among younger people, rising inflation and escalating housing costs. Significantly, for a major oil producer, heavily subsidised petrol prices are due to rise next month, hitting poorer people hardest in a country with poor or non-existent public transport.
In an unusual intervention, Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sa'anei, one of Iran's most respected Islamic scholars, has attacked Mr Ahmadinejad's government for failing to tackle social ills such as youth unemployment, drug addiction, and gender inequality. In a rare interview with a western newspaper at his office in the holy city of Qom, Mr Sa'anei said:
"The government should be at the service of the people. But it is putting too much pressure on the people. It bans newspapers, sends people to jail, segregates boys and the girls at the universities, makes noise about hijab."
On the other hand the President of Iran doesn’t exactly have a huge amount of power –more than, say, Mary McAleese but nothing like the power wielded by George W Bush. The real reins of power are most certainly held elsewhere. It also remains to be seen whether the opposition’s efforts will be stifled by the Guardian Council. If the coalition is allowed to stand and if it wins then perhaps it will be the first stage towards a better Iran.