Many governments are upbeat following the election of Rohani as Iran’s new president, invariably described as a “potential hope” for Iran. The White House even used his clerical title “Sayyid” when it congratulated him for his victory and is concentrating in setting new conditions to prepare a new round of talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.
After all, Rohani has all the credentials to act as a proxy for the reformist camp in Iran – a solid by-product of the religious class, a skilled negotiator having cut his teeth in the minefields of nuclear talks, a charismatic leader having proved he could capture a big chunk of his citizens in the quest for a better life and promising to wrest Iran from its debilitating stand-off with the West.
At his first press conference attended by hundreds of journalists, Rohani showcased his credentials when he was asked about his plans. He displayed in particular powerful skills as a seasoned diplomat when hundreds of journalists packed his first press conference and tested his pragmatism.
Asked in particular about his attitude to journalists, and by implication to freedom of expression and press freedom, he made no groundbreaking pronouncement on journalists still in prison but was very clear about a specific question about the future of the journalists’ association. Although he did not make any open promise to re-open the association, closed down since 2009, he was unambiguous about the role of unions. “Any kind of syndicate or guild needs to be activated based on law because syndicates are the best way to run the affairs of society. The running of social affairs needs to be assigned and delegated to the guilds and syndicates themselves. I will try my best” he replied.
The key question remains how much room for manoeuvre will he be allowed if indeed he is to usher in a historical shift in the fortunes of Iran.