Who is in the Running to Be the Next Iranian President? - Latest Global News

Who is in the Running to Be the Next Iranian President?

Six candidates were approved for the presidential election on June 28.

Iran will hold presidential elections on June 28, having been brought forward from 2021 to 2025 following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month.

While the supreme head of the Iranian state is the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the position of president is the second most powerful.

Six candidates have been approved for the presidency. All of them support and are loyal to the Supreme Leader and the Iranian political system.

Let’s take a closer look at the candidates and what might happen next in Iran.

Who are the presidential candidates?

The six are:

  • Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf – Parliament Speaker, former Mayor of Tehran and former Air Force Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
  • Saeed Jalili – Member of the Expediency Council, former chief nuclear negotiator
  • Alireza Zakani – Mayor of Tehran
  • Masoud Pezeshkian – Member of Parliament
  • Mostafa Pourmohammadi – former Minister of the Interior and Justice
  • Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi – Head of the Iranian Martyrs and Veterans Affairs Foundation

How are they selected?

After candidates submit their candidacies within a deadline set by election officials, they are all reviewed by the Guardian Council, which makes the final decision on who may run.

The Guardian Council is a committee of twelve appointed members that wields considerable influence in Iran.

How many applicants were rejected?

This year, as in the previous election, the Guardian Council rejected the majority of applications – among the 74 rejected candidates were some familiar faces.

Perhaps the best known, especially internationally, is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served from 2005 to 2013.

Others who were rejected include moderate former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani – who was considered one of the favorites – and former vice president Eshaq Jahangiri.

The Guardian Council does not publicly explain why it has rejected a candidate. What is known is that its members decide on a candidacy based on perceived loyalty to the Iranian government.

Is there a favorite to win the election?

Ghalibaf and Jalili are the immediate frontrunners. Both are conservatives, with Ghalibaf considered more moderate while Jalili is a hardliner.

Jalili meets many of the criteria for a potential winner, at least in terms of establishment support. He has close ties to Khamenei and the powerful IRGC paramilitary group.

He was also close to Raisi and would be the candidate to continue his candidacy after he withdrew his candidacy in favor of the late president in the 2021 elections.

Ghalibaf, on the other hand, is a technocrat and also has close ties to the IRGC and Khamenei, but will be attacked by ultra-conservative media.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf at a press conference after registering as a candidate for the presidential election at the Ministry of Interior in Tehran on June 3, 2024 [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Pezeshkian is the only candidate who represents a reform-oriented Iranian policy. Other similar candidates were not allowed to participate.

His only chance of success is if the conservative vote is split between Ghalibaf and Jalili and enough reform-minded Iranians cast their votes.

However, the reform movement in Iran was already politically weak, as many anti-government Iranians refused to participate in the political system in order not to give it legitimacy.

Can we expect political changes in Iran after the election?

The short list of approved candidates and the political currents to which most of them belong are signs that Iran will continue on its current political path even after the election.

The elections come at a sensitive time for Iran, as a regional crisis resulting from Israel’s war on Gaza threatens to drag Iran into direct conflict.

The country also still has a strong anti-government movement, although protests have died down following the state’s crackdown. The protests began in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was accused of not adhering to the country’s dress code for women.

This movement has led to an increasing number of Iranians turning away from the political system, which is likely to further consolidate the power of the country’s conservative wing, at least in the short term.

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