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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid