|Spiritual leader||Ali Khamenei|
|Parliamentary leader||Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf|
18 / 19 (95%)
10 / 10 (100%)
240 / 290 (83%)
|Assembly of Experts|
66 / 88 (75%)
21 / 21 (100%)
15 / 15 (100%)
13 / 13 (100%)
9 / 13 (69%)
13 / 13 (100%)
13 / 13 (100%)
6 / 13 (46%)
11 / 11 (100%)
9 / 11 (82%)
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The Principlists (Persian: اصولگرایان, romanized: Osul-Garāyān, lit. 'followers of principles or fundamentalists'), also interchangeably known as the Iranian Conservatives and formerly referred to as the Right or Right-wing, are one of two main political camps inside post-revolutionary Iran, the other being Reformists. The term hardliners that some western sources use in the Iranian political context usually refers to the faction, although the principlist camp also includes more centrist tendencies.
The camp rejects the status quo internationally, but tends to preserve it domestically.
Within Iranian politics, a principlist refers to the conservative supporters of the Supreme Leader of Iran and advocates for protecting the ideological "principles" of the Islamic Revolution's early days. According to Hossein Mousavian, "The Principlists constitute the main right-wing/conservative political movement in Iran. They are more religiously oriented and more closely affiliated with the Qom-based clerical establishment than their moderate and reformist rivals".
A declaration issued by The Two Societies, which serves as the Principlists "manifesto", focuses on loyalty to Islam and the Iranian Revolution, obedience to the Supreme Leader of Iran, and devotion to the principle of Vilayat Faqih.
According to a poll conducted by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) in April 2017, 15% of Iranians identify as leaning Principlist. In comparison, 28% identify as leaning Reformist.
The Principlists currently dominate the Assembly of Experts, as well as non-elective institutions such as the Guardian Council, the Expediency Discernment Council, and the Judiciary.
|1997||Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri||7,248,317||24.87||2nd|
|Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf||4,095,827||13.93||4th|
|Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf||6,077,292||16.56||2nd|
|Ali Akbar Velayati||2,268,753||6.18||6th|
|Government of Islamic Republic of Iran|
In fact, Iranian 'Islamists' of our day call themselves 'Usul gara', which literally means 'fundamentalist', but in a positive sense. It designates a 'person of principles' who is the 'true Muslim'.
"Principlism" or osul-gera'i first appeared in the Iranian political lexicon during the second-term presidency of Mohammad Khatami as an alternative to eslāh-talabi or reformism. Although principlists do not share a uniform political platform, they all believed that the reformist movement would lead the Republic towards secularism. One of the most common elements of their political philosophy is the comprehensiveness of the shari'a. The responsibility of the Islamic state is to determine ways of implementing the mandates of Islam, rather than the reformist project of reinterpreting the shari'a to correspond to the demands of contemporary society.
This discourse was eventually tagged with the Persian neologism osulgarāi, a word that can be translated into English as "fundamentalist", since "osul" means "doctrine", "root", or "tenet". According to several Iranian journalists, state-funded media were aware of the negative connotation of this particular word in Western countries. Preferring not to be lumped in with Sunni Salafism, the English-language media in Iran opted to use the term "principlist", which caught on more generally.
"Conservative" is no longer a preferred term in Iranian political discourse. "Usulgara", which can be clumsily translated as "principlist", is the term now used to refer to an array of forces that previously identified themselves as conservative, fundamentalist, neo-fundamentalist, or traditionalist. It developed to counter the term eslahgara, or reformist, and is applied to a camp of not necessarily congrous groups and individuals.
In Western sources, the term "hard-liners" is used to refer to the faction under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ali Khamanehi. Members of this group prefer to call themselves Osul-gara. The word osul (plural of asl) means "fundamentals", or "principles" or "tenets", and the verbal suffix -gara means "those who uphold or promote". The more radical elements in the hard-line camp prefer to call themselves Ommat Hezbollah. Ommat is a technical Arabic-Islamic term referring to people who are Muslim. Hezbollah literally means "Party of Allah". Before the rise of Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005, many official sources in the Islamic Republic referred to this group as mohafezeh-kar ("conservative"). Between 1997 and 2006, many Iranians inside Iran used the terms eqtedar-gara ("authoritarian") and tamamiyat-khah ("totalitarian") for what many Western observers have termed "hard-liners". Members of the reformist faction of the fundamentalist oligarchy called the hard-liners eqtedar-gara.
What is important, however, is that the principlist camp now increasingly represents not just hard-liners, but also more centre-right factions.