Iranian presidential election, 1997

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Iranian presidential election, 1997
1993 ←
23 May 1997 → 2001

  Khatami Cropped 2000.jpg Ali-Akbar Nategh-Nouri (Cropped).jpg
Nominee Mohammad Khatami Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri
Party ACC Combatant Clergy
Popular vote 20,078,187 7,242,859
Percentage 69.6% 25.0%

President before election

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Elected President

Mohammad Khatami

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Iranian presidential election of 1997 took place on 23 May 1997, which resulted in an unpredicted win for the reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami. The election was notable not only for the lopsided majority of the winner - 70% - but for the high turnout. 80% of those eligible to vote did so, compared to 50% in the previous presidential election.[1]


The Council of Guardians blocked 234 candidates from running for the presidency because they lacked the religious and political qualifications.[2][3] Only four candidates were permitted to run for office.


The candidates were asked about their opinion on the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri said that any "a good Muslim" would carry out the fatwa.[4] Mohammad Khatami avoided the issue.[4] Mohammad Khatami's supporters called Nateq-Nouri the "Taliban" of Iran.[5]

Mohammad Khatami expressed support for the easing Islamic regulations "from women's dress to whether TV satellite dishes should be allowed."[6]


Iranian presidential election, 1997
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Association of Combatant Clerics Mohammad Khatami 20,078,187 69.6%
Combatant Clergy Association Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri 7,242,859 25.0%
Independent Reza Zavarei 771,460 2.7%
Association for Defence of Revolution Values Mohammad Reyshahri 742,598 2.6%
Blank or invalid votes 240,996
Totals 29,067,100 100.00%
Voter turnout 88%
Sources: Ministry of Interior of Iran


Khatami's victory began a new era the Islamic Republic, an era of dynamic change to aspects of the existing political climate, and of promise to young Iranians that hope and change could be had under the current system. A spectrum of reformers was identified and drove the belief that fundamental change in national affairs was needed.

Among the objectives of reformers were the reduction of power in the established clerical elite, and the increase of liberty in the constitution; those who supported more radical democratic reforms were sometimes called "fundamentalists"

With a relatively open political atmosphere, new parties were born with astonishing speed. Reformers managed to achieve a majority in the Sixth Parliament (2000). During this period, many newspapers attempted increased freedom in their coverage, resulting in many being closed. Also, for the first time since 1979, students were seen as a potential for driving change.

On Persian date 18 Tir 1378, one of the student movements at Tehran University protested the way newspapers had been treated, but it was declared within a few hours that this small protest was opposed to the Islamic Republic itself.

As time passed, expectations were managed. Reformers rely on three main pillars; the performance of their representatives in Parliament, press freedoms, and a focus on students and education. It had been said that during Khatami's presidency, there was a crisis every 9 days, and reacting to these alone consumed a major amount of time that could have otherwise been focused on reform.

Despite attempts by the Parliament to change the constitution, protesters and those who stood in opposition to the Islamic Republic were still in danger of arrest. Constitutional delegates attempted to grant the right of free speech, but were unable to, and the anger of prosecution remains.

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