Do the reformists have zero candidates educated in economics?
Mere days before Iran’s parliamentary elections, conservative criticisms have put the educational credentials of candidates on the reformist list on the election agenda. This development was precipitated by conservative candidate and current MP Elias Naderan, who asserted that “unlike on the conservative list, a listed reformist educated in economics is basically someone who does not exist.”
The reformist and conservative political currents do not face the same conditions in these elections. The current Majlis elections have one of the highest rates of candidate disqualifications in the history of the Islamic Republic, with many prominent reformists being prevented from running for parliament by the Guardian Council. In this context, it is perhaps unfair for conservatives to criticize the composition of the reformist list when reformists have had little control over which of their number are permitted to contest seats in Majlis.
Current Reformist Candidates with Economic Credentials
Nevertheless, a careful review of the coalition list shared by reformists and supporters of the Rouhani Administration shows that, contrary to the statements of Elias Naderan, a number of reformist candidates have university educations in economics, including Karj candidate Mahdavi Kelishomi and Rasht candidate Mohammad Sadegh Hassani, both of whom have doctorates in economics, and Mashad candidate M. Kalaie, who is an economics graduate and served as Director of Planning responsible for overseeing the economic affairs of the City of Mashhad. This leaves aside reformist candidates who do not have educations in economics, but who have extensive past experience in economic management, such as Mohammed Reza Aref (formerly of the Directorate of Management and Planning Organization) and M.R. Badamchi (former Director General of Economic Planning and Governor of East Azerbaijan province).
But perhaps the most qualified reformist candidate in terms of education and experience in economics is Gholamreza Tajgardoon, who serves as an MP in the recent Majlis and is a candidate for re-election in the present elections. In addition to an education in economics, Tajgardoon currently heads the Audit Planning and Budget Commission of Majlis, which is responsible for reviewing Iran’s annual budget. Moreover, Tajgardoon holds a number of other economic roles, including Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Foreign Exchange, a seat on the Money and Credit Council, Secretary of the State Budget, Co-Chairman of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, and Chief Advisor to the Management and Planning Organization.
Given his seat in the current Majlis, Elias Naderan and other conservative candidates who are members of the current Majlis’ Planning and Budget Commission are of course aware of Gholamreza Tajgardoon’s education and current economic roles in parliament.
Current MP and conservative candidate Elias Naderan stated that “unlike on the conservative list, a listed reformist educated in economics is basically someone who does not exist.” In light of the series of reformist candidates who have academic credentials in economics, we rate Mr. Naderan’s claims as “False.”