Iranian authorities allowed the candidacies of five conservatives and two reformists in the June 18 presidential election, in a decision that sparked controversy over the disqualification of three top candidates, including that of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005 -2013).
In addition to the former populist mandate, the Council of Guardians of the Constitution – which approves presidential candidates – rejected the participation of Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist and ally of the current president, Hassan Rouhani, and the former head of parliament, moderate conservative Ali Larijani, adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The agency does not need to justify the reasons for the disqualification of the candidates, chosen from 40 names approved after meeting the basic criteria – about 600 people registered for the election.
The council’s choice appears to pave the way for the victory of the extremist head of the judiciary, the conservative Ebrahim Raisi, who won 38% of the vote in the 2017 elections and is close to Khamenei.
On the other hand, the exclusion of important candidates could affect the turnout – the legislative elections of 2020 recorded a turnout of 42%, the lowest since the Islamic revolution of 1979. A poll published by the Fars news agency predicts an attendance rate of 53%. this election.
According to the list published by the official Irna news agency, the June election will be contested by Raisi and the conservatives Saeed Jalili (former chief nuclear negotiator), Mohsen Rezaei (former leader of the Revolutionary Guards and frequently candidate for the presidency) and the deputies Alireza Zakani and Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi. The reformers approved were Abdolnaser Hemmati, president of the Central Bank, and Mohsen Mehralizadeh, former vice president.
The decision was not without controversy in the country. In a statement issued by local media, Vice President Jahangiri said the rejection of “many qualified people is a serious threat to public participation and fair competition among political tendencies, especially reformists.”
Speaking in parliament, lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeigi criticized Ahmadinejad’s disqualification and said security forces surrounded the former president’s home, although he asked his supporters to remain calm. Even the favorite Raisi defended, on Twitter, a more plural claim.
“Since last night, when I was informed of the results, […] I have established contacts and consultations to make the electoral scenario more competitive and participatory, ”he wrote. Larijani, for his part, did not oppose the council’s decision, saying he had “done his duty before God” and the country.
The dispute comes amid growing discontent in an economy heavily impacted by US sanctions. Rouhani and his moderate allies attributed most of Iran’s economic problems to US measures and prioritized negotiations to revive the nuclear deal, abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018.
Larijani had previously declared his support for the treaty and talks to resume it, which flies in the face of other conservatives and Khamenei’s hardline allies, who insist Americans cannot be trusted to enforce an agreement, in addition to holding the Rouhani government accountable. for the country’s economic difficulties. Experts also point out that one of the reasons that may have cost Larijani’s candidacy is the fact that her daughter Fatemeh lives in the United States, where she is studying medicine.