News / Middle East

Graying Candidates Take Center Stage in Iranian Election

Graying Candidates Take Center Stage in Iran's Electioni
X
June 11, 2013 5:50 PM
The candidates for president of Iran are cut from strikingly similar cloth: all are men, have ties to Iran's supreme leader and appear far more like technocrats when compared to the maverick current president. VOA's Jeff Seldin takes a look at the likely favorite and what, if anything, the six candidates are doing to distinguish themselves.

Graying Candidates Take Center Stage in Iran's Election

The candidates in Iran's presidential election Friday are cut from strikingly similar cloth: all are men, have ties to Iran's supreme leader, and appear far more like technocrats when compared to the maverick current president.

The consensus favorite, according to most analysts, is Saeed Jalili.  Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, he comes with a reputation for taking a hard line with the West.

"We seek to expand the influence of Islam in the world and resist those hegemonic powers," said Jalili.

Jalili is often described as "mild-mannered" and heads a field of mostly conservative candidates, some of whom bristled at the quiz-style format of the first debate.  Mohammad Reza Aref, at one time seen as the main reformist candidate, took such offense he refused to answer questions.

Aref dropped out Tuesday at the request of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.  Khatami, Aref and other reformers are throwing their support to former chief nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani.

Former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross says that none of the candidates are standing out is by design.

“It’s pretty clear the supreme leader would like to have largely a non-factor, someone who is not going to challenge him.  He would like someone in as president can basically can administer his policies, keep him above the fray," said Ross.

That's a stark contrast to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has challenged supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and whose bombastic anti-West rhetoric has cleared U.N. halls.

Even the campaign stops are muted, with state-run TV showing candidates walking through small groups of enthusiastic supporters and offering vague assurances about Iran's struggling economy.  

"We won't allow taxes to exceed a certain limit that may prevent you [merchants] from doing business," said Mohsen Rezaei.

That's far different from the 2009 election, when supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, now under house arrest, filled stadiums and took to the streets in the middle of the night to show their support.

Analyst Ross says that, too, is by the design of Khamenei, who has kept a lid on election-related dissent.

“I think he wants no level of activism.  He wants no resurgence of interest," he said.

With only days left before the election, a group of graying candidates - some of whom have been absent from the political scene for years - are giving Iranians few indications they can expect much change.  

This report has been updated to reflect Mohammad Reza Aref's dropping out of the presidential race.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Change Iran Now from: US
June 11, 2013 12:31 AM
While Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei has hand-picked his guys and is hoping for a record voter turnout, helped along by the cheerful menace of the Revolutionary Guard to the polls, leaves little doubt as to what the outcome will be since whoever wins will be effectively managed by Khamenei as fully as a puppet master.

Consequently, while we in the West might be buoyed by a so-called reform candidate, the bitter truth is that this election will lead to no reforms. Along with this pre-determined outcome will be the constant struggles we will have with Iran's continued support of state sponsored terrorism, naked efforts to build nuclear weapons and a policy of using economic sanctions as an excuse to punish and oppress the Iranian people.

At the end of the day, we can only hope that the Iranian people will boycott these elections and deny Khamenei the sense of legitimacy he craves and continue international diplomatic pressure in conjunction with support for dissident groups such as the NCRI and PMOI who are rally doing the heavy lifting of fighting for regime change.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid