CM – Iran blocks moderate elections in June

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Tehran – The Iranian electoral body disqualified dozens of candidates for the June presidential election, including almost all moderates and reformists. This is a step that narrows the spectrum of political participation at a time when the Islamic Republic is facing growing domestic dissatisfaction.

Eliminating candidates near the center of Iranian politics helps pave the way to Pave victory

Ebrahim Raisi,

A leading cleric defeated in the 2017 elections. Analysts warn of the risk of lowering voter turnout and further diminishing the popularity of a clergy-led system that has suppressed repeated attacks of political and economic turmoil To completely monopolize hands, the desire to present elections in the Islamic Republic as evidence of the legitimacy of the system is heavily overshadowed, « said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a researcher at the Free University of Berlin.

While reformists and moderates were almost completely incapacitated, the Iranian Council of Guardians, which is screening election candidates, also disqualified numerous establishment insiders, in particular

Ali Larijani,

a former Speaker of Parliament for 12 years until 2020 who was expected to be Mr Raisi’s lead candidate. Mr Larijani is conservative but closer to the current moderate government than Mr Raisi.

In a statement following the announcement by the Iranian state media, Mr Larijani said he accepted the result and encouraged his supporters to vote. Mr. Larijani ran for president in 2005 and received less than 6% of the vote.

The current president,

Hassan Rouhani,

Those who took office in 2013 are constitutionally barred from looking for a third term. He won re-election in 2017 and fought off a challenge from Mr Raisi.

The surprise victory in 2013 for Mr Rouhani – an opponent of the country’s hardliners – came after the Guardian Council disqualified former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. This year the council will have more control over the process, said Hamidreza Jalaeipour, professor at the University of Tehran.

« They didn’t think Rouhani had a chance to win. This time they didn’t want to make the same mistake, » he said.

Mr Rouhani’s Foreign Minister,

Javad Zarif,

a rumored candidate who has not signed up to run.

The Guardian Council consists of six clergymen appointed by the Supreme Leader

Ali Khamenei

and six lawyers who were submitted to the head of justice by parliament for approval. The head of justice is also chosen by the supreme leader.

The seven admitted candidates will fight amid negotiations in Vienna to revive a 2015 deal that restricts Iranian nuclear activities. A new president is unlikely to significantly change Iran’s position on complying with the deal if the US returns and lifts sanctions on Tehran.

In terms of ideology, the candidates examined offer the closest to Iranian voters political choice in the 40-year electoral history of the Islamic Republic. Dissidents and critics of the establishment have called for a boycott of the vote.

In the last three decades, the turnout in the Iranian elections has ranged between 60% and 85%, which the church establishment has touted as a sign of its legitimacy in the population.

One of the seven approved candidates for the Guardian Council is former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, head of the central bank

Abdolnaser Hemmati,

Revolutionary Guard veteran

Mohsen Rezaei

and the relatively inconspicuous reformist Mohsen Mehralizadeh.

Among the disqualified candidates were several prominent insiders of the establishment, including Saeed Mohammad, who was the head of Khatam al-Anbiya, the technical arm of the Revolutionary Guard and one of Iran’s largest contractors contributed to consolidating the dominance of the elite unit in Iranian politics.

It was not clear why Mr. Mohammad was disqualified. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal prior to the announcement on Tuesday, he emerged as an independent candidate with moderate views on cultural areas such as his opposition to internet censorship and the participation of women in politics that he endorses.

 » I am a completely independent candidate and I practice politics beyond the existing categories and camps, « said Mohammad. « Old polarizations such as conservatives versus reformists no longer work. We need a new approach, a young government. »

The current Vice President,

Eshaq Jahangiri,

a reformist and former populist president

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,

who has taken frequent crackdowns on the country’s leadership since leaving office in 2009 to restrict people’s freedom, despite overseeing violent crackdowns against dissent during his presidency. Mr Ahmadinejad was also banned from running in 2017.

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