News / Middle East

Iran Presidential Candidates to Step Forward

Approval by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is key to decision of some candidates to run in electionApproval by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is key to decision of some candidates to run in election
x
Approval by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is key to decision of some candidates to run in election
Approval by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is key to decision of some candidates to run in election
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
Few Iranian presidential elections have been so unpredictable but the next few days will at least narrow down who will stand in the ballot on June 14, for which candidate registration starts on Tuesday and ends on Saturday.
       
What is certain is that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has held ultimate power as Supreme Leader for 24 years, wants to avoid both the mass protests by reformists that greeted the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, and also more of the public feuding between the outgoing president's allies and fellow hardliners which has marked Ahmadinejad's second term.
       
"The Iranian leadership is so nervous, even if it doesn't need to be. The 2009 election was an enormous loss of face for the establishment and they're very concerned about a repetition,'' said a Western diplomat based in Tehran.
       
"Instead of trusting the people, they have put their trust in all sorts of security measures.
       
Some hopefuls have already declared they will register to run in the first round in six weeks. But many with the strongest chances have been hanging back, weighing their prospects until the last minute, with an eye not only to public opinion but to the Guardian Council of clerics and jurists which can reject any candidacy until a final roster is published around May 23.
       
With reformist groups largely suppressed over the past four years, the election campaign may reflect little of the debates among Iranians - on how to shore up an economy sagging under Western sanctions, or on foreign policy and the nuclear programme that has provoked international concern.
       
''There is an absence of political discussion, a lack of talk about taxation, the economy or relations with neighbouring countries," the Tehran-based diplomat said.

Ahmadinejad camp   

Ahmadinejad, who cannot seek a third mandate, secured an outright win with 62 percent in the four-man first round in 2009, provoking claims of fraud and the biggest protests since the revolution that deposed the Shah in 1979. If no candidate secures more than 50 percent, the runoff will be a week later.
       
Although Ahmadinejad, 56, is barred by law from running again, his rivals among fellow hardliners committed to resisting a dilution of the state's Islamist founding principles fear the confrontational incumbent will back a candidate - possibly his close aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei - to preserve his influence, even in the face of disapproval from the 73-year-old Khamenei.
       
''Unlike the first generation of revolutionary elite who played by the rules, Ahmadinejad's group has consistently pushed against regime red lines and at times even challenged the authority of the Supreme Leader," said Yasmin Alem, a U.S.-based expert on Iran's electoral system.
       
''For them, ambition trumps allegiance to the regime's principles."
       
For his part, Khamenei is turning to a loyal alliance which includes his adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, another ally Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel and charismatic Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, in the hope of securing a quick and painless election win, say analysts and diplomats.
       
But that informal coalition's final candidate has yet to be declared - a sign they are still sizing up the competition.

Former presidents

Even less clear are the intentions of former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, whose moderate candidacies would radically alter the contest. Both appear reluctant to stand unless given the nod from Khamenei but neither have ruled themselves out.
       
''I will not enter the field without his consent," Rafsanjani said this week, according to the Mehr news agency. ''If circumstances are such that there will be conflicts and disputes between me and the leader, we will all lose."
       
He was president from 1989 to 1997. Khatami, a reformist who succeeded Rafsanjani until 2005, retains much popularity, especially among secular middle classes, youth and women voters.
       
''Khatami is definitely the most loved," said a social media consultant in Tehran working for a reformist campaign. ''Everyone is waiting for his response. The Qalibaf and Velayati staff are calling his office constantly to see if he will run."
       
Both Rafsanjani and Khatami have been sidelined since 2009 and their association with reformist leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi - losing candidates to Ahmadinejad in 2009 and under house arrest for more than two years - has attracted sharp criticism from hardliners.
       
Mainstream contenders are not the only ones facing pressure from the authorities. Hooshang Amirahmadi, an academic living in the United States, intends to take part in the election to call for economic reform and ending confrontation with Washington but said that officials have tried to discourage him from standing.
       
''I was in Tehran two weeks ago and they told me to stay away," he told Reuters from New Jersey, where he is a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University.
       
''They said that my safety is in danger. They are really nervous and that surprises me."

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid