Date : Thursday, February 18, 2010
Dr. Alireza Rajayi is a well-known political analyst in Iran. He is a member of The Nationalist-Religious Movement of Iran
The reform movement is currently in such a position that adopting [new] strategies and guidelines is essential for its political continuity. The first point to mention is that after the events of recent months, one cannot talk of a rapid solution. By examining the political atmosphere in the country, [one] can conclude that restrictions imposed on various reformist parties and figures inhibit the attainment of a quick solution. Presently, the reform movement has lost the ability to participate in the power arena within the the current political environment. Therefore, lacking the power to be present in the official [political] landscape, the major reformist groups should think of alternative strategies that could allow them to participate in civil society [instead]. This is also a difficult course to take, but it is certainly required. They should actively and strongly increase their presence in civil society. Of course, considering certain restrictions and limitations that exist in the cultural sphere as well as in the media, actively participating in civil society [is not at all simple]. Therefore, one should look for a suitable solution with patience. The reformists should see how successful they can be in interacting with the public without [the use of] an effective media. This [method] was, [in fact], used by reformists two decades ago and, hence, has considerable background. Although reformist activities [utilized] to strengthen civil society have been the subject of criticism, the reform movement has [actually] gained credible experience in this field. During Khatami’s government, reformists overall made reasonable achievements in the growth and spread of civil society. By examining this period, one can see reasonable efforts to strengthen civil society.
Perhaps these efforts were the reason for the high turnout in the presidential election that took place on 22 Khordaad. On that day, portions of society that were [previously] against participation, or indifferent to it, began to actively participate in the process. Theactive participation of these [specific] groups is one of the [most] important achievements of those who, during the reform period, made copious efforts to develop an independent civil society. In any case, in the current environment, wherein the reform movement faces different obstacles, it can continue its activities in a social and cultural context.
Generally, in periods like this, social and cultural activities should be more vigorously pursued than activities that involve the concept of political awareness. In addition, [activists believe] that Iranian civil society today allows for more active participation [than before] since, despite difficulties, there exists potential for a democratic progression that cannot be stopped or silenced.
It is not possible to predict how long the current situation will persist, but eventually it will come to an end. Thus, reformists from various inclinations can continue these activities while there are still some opportunities for sociopolitical participation in a democratic context within civil society. Even though these units vary significantly in strategy and may not have a strong common platform, they can manage to survive within the existing circumstances, which [appear to] have actually brought them closer together.
Currently, reformists face two major issues: first is the continuation of their political activities – the age-old story of survival – and the second is how they can do so. With regards to political survival, I should say that it is impossible to fully eliminate these groups because they have a social backing and, as mentioned previously, society [actually] embraces their existence as well as their activities. Nevertheless, with the persistence of existing circumstances, their political activities will decline and become less noticeable than before. This does not mean that they will completely cease to exist, but their social and cultural facets and activities will [become] more prevalent. Regarding the second issue: the reformists obviously cannot play an open hand the way they did after 2 Khordaad . The majority of reformists are currently facing problems and many are in prison, so it is natural that they cannot pursue their activities using the same methods as before. Therefore, they have to utilize new ones. A situation like this also gives rise to increased creativity and innovation. In general, [we can say that we now find ourselves] in a very complex political situation. Details cannot be analyzed here at length, but this complex state of affairs calls for a new approach in terms of [political] activity. Nowadays, news and ongoing developments are quickly and clearly reflected within our society’s collective consciousness. This is also one of the effects of the eight years of reform we experienced [during Khatami’s presidency]. At this time, the reformists encouraged public awareness [as well as greater freedom in terms of information flow] as part of their political agenda. They made people better informed and more capable of analysis in general. This is why the public does not lack the framework for proper political analysis and does not find it difficult to have an informed opinion about current events.
The issue at hand is trying to find solutions for survival that do not lead to conservatism and passiveness. These strategies are viable in practice. They should be sought with patience, perseverance, and pragmatism, and gradual steps towards their implementation should be taken.
 During reformist Mohammad Khatami’s presidency