The central council of the National Trust (Etemad Melli) party nominated their leader, Mehdi Karrubi, to be the party's candidate in the next election. Although Karrubi has not formally accepted his party's nomination nor stated his intent to run, it seems likely that he'll give the presidential campaign another shot. In a March interview with Newsweek, he pledged that his party would field a candidate for president:
We will have a member of our party as the candidate. It wouldn't necessarily be me, but someone who is a member of our party. . . Someone from our party will have a good chance. Even though last time I entered the race without a party I was the No. 1 candidate in many provinces. So next year our supporters will still vote for us and will be even more organized.Karrubi was a candidate in the 2005 elections, but points to widespread voter-fraud and his lack of party-backing for his loss. (Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad probably had a little to do with it, too.) After his loss, Karrubi started the National Trust party as a way to organize his supporters. Karrubi presents himself as a more pragmatic politician than the "radical" (his words) Khatami.
As I suggested earlier this week, the question of Karrubi's candidacy seems to be at the heart of Khatami's current indecision. If Karrubi runs, and it appears that he will, then it will be difficult for Khatami to run as well. Beyond splitting the reformist vote, Khatami will lack the popular mandate that he expects and feels he deserves as the most senior reformist leader. Such a situation would be like Bill Clinton running against Al Gore, the former would have more to lose than the latter.
[Image: Former Majles speaker, and current reformist leader, Mehdi Karrubi]