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Hassan Rouhani has caused a surprise in Iranian politics by raising the possibility of a national referendum.Rouhani, expecting he would win such a referendum, is no doubt seeking to suggest that most Iranians want an agreement. But referendums are strange beasts. Iran has had five referendums.In 1979, in the rapids of the revolution, there were two referendums, first to endorse an Islamic Republic to replace the monarchy and second to endorse the draft constitution proposed by an Assembly of Experts consisting mainly of religious scholars. Iran's first referendum occurred in 1953, when Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was under growing pressure from Britain and the United States over his nationalization of oil two years earlier. Hence, when and if a deal comes, a referendum could tempt not just Rouhani but also Khamenei as a way of establishing its legitimacy against those who regard it as a betrayal of the ideals of the revolution.
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