Iran’s Presidential Race Begins

Iran’s Presidential Race Begins

Iran’s Interior Ministry has issued the Approved Official List of eight Candidates for upcoming Presidential Election to be held on June 14. Sitting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is out of race being constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term as President of Islamic Republic Iran.



Before we discuss the eight eligible “fortunate” candidates it will be important to mention here that Iran’s influential Guardian Council disqualified two notable candidates, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandyar Rahim Mishai, a close relative and ex-chief of staff of Ahmadinejad. Guardian Council is an unelected body controlled by religious conservatives appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.



A moderate Rafsanjani’s disqualification is a major setback to Reformists. Veteran Rafsanjani, 79, critical of Ahmadinejad, who was President between 1989 and 1997 has been set apart by ultra-conservatives since Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election in 2009, aroused street protests, leading to a heavy crackdown and the arrest of hundreds of journalists and reformists. Ahmadinejad strongly backed Esfandyar Rahim Mishai as his political heir, but there were serious hindrances to take him to start line. Due to Ahmadinejad’s severe disputes with the ruling clerics, Mashai has been disqualified as a runner in Presidential race and political experts say it was expected because a Presidential candidate for Iran’s highest elected office is considered to be a loyal to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been irritated by challenges to his authority by Ahmadinejad and his allies.



US officials criticized the disqualifications of more than 700 candidates and said, “It appears that Iran’s unelected Guardian Council, which is unaccountable to the Iranian people, has disqualified hundreds of potential candidates based on vague criteria.” But USA and rest of the World are nothing to do but to wait who is winner and what policies are formed by new comer about nuclear talks and other important regional affairs including confrontation with Israel or the U.S.



Common people were very excited on moderate Rafsanjani’s decision to again take part in election but his disqualification has turned the excitement into shock as about 78 other experienced potential candidates have also been eliminated and some less experienced candidates are part of approved list to contest in election. Candidacy of Women was already prohibited.



Let’s have a bird eye-view on the short-listed Presidential Candidates:


Ali Akbar Velayati:


One of the most popular conservative candidates Ali Akbar Velayati, 67, a physician is key advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international affairs. He had been Foreign Minster of Iran.


Mohammed Baqr Qalibaf:


Another popular conservative and Mayor of Tehran, Pilot Mohammed Baqr Qalibaf, 51 is considered very close to Supreme Leader. He is also former Commander of the Revolutionary Guard during the Iran-Iraq war.


Hasan Rowhani:

Hasan Rowhani, a British-educated cleric, 64 is a former nuclear negotiator, nuclear dossier and Khamenei’s representative at the Supreme National Security Council. He is known as a less experienced conservative Presidential Candidate.


Mohammad Reza Aref:


Mohammad Reza Aref, 61, a Liberal was former Vice President under reformist President Mohammad Khatami. He is a former Tehran University chancellor.


Mohsen Rezaei:


Mohsen Rezaei, 58, stood fourth in 2009 Election is a Former Chief Commander of the Revolutionary Guard. He is secretary of the Expediency Council, which mediates between the parliament and Guardian Council.


Saeed Jalili:


Saeed Jalili, 47, is Iran’s top hardliner nuclear negotiator since 2007. He began his career as a diplomat in 1991 and enjoys support of ultra-conservative cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. He is the youngest Presidential Candidate. Jalili speaks English and Arabic and has a doctorate in political science,


Gholam Ali Haddad Adel:


Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, 68, a well known conservative is currently a member of the Expediency Council. His daughter is married to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s son.


Mohammad Gharazi:


Mohammad Gharazi, 71, conservative, is ex-oil and telecommunications minister. He remained in parliament in the 1980s and `90s. He portrays himself as a steady-handed technocrat.


Two potential candidates Ali Akbar Velayati and Saeed Jalili enjoy the support of conservatives but who will be the final choice – actually depending on who wins the blessings of Supreme Leader.


Despite the main issues of Nuke talks and sanctions internationally the importance of this election is significant for Iranian people. Sanction hit Iran is in grip of sever economic turmoil. Observers say “This is not an election of hope and change, but hold on and see”. Reformists although disappointed but see this event as a trend of politics for next 10 years whether the country will go on same traditional dictatorial conservative style leaving no room for peaceful reforms or any new trend from voters will force hard-liners to give some space for social reforms and bring the country on the way to stability to economy and proper attention to common man and spend substantial resources to social sectors.

Syed Shahzad Alam

A content developer at Jang Group of Companies. He can be contacted at [email protected]

  • S Nasrullah

    The Iranian Elections of June 14 have assumed tremendous significance owing to the fact that a strong Administration could dispel the popular belief that the stringent Sanctions have diluted or dissipated the national fervor to achieve their Nuclear ambitions. USA have eased some restrictions on the front of Communication – mobile phones, accessories and batteries to enable the anarchist elements in the Iranian insurgency to beef up their plans for collective actions.

    Ahmedinejad has completed his three terms and is ineligible. Among the Eight Candidates approved by the Guidance Council, Two are probably more favored than others. Both Mohammad Baqar and Saeed jalili are young and close to the Clergy that matters. Baqar as Mayor of Tehran and his stint with the Revolutionary Guard gives him a perceptible edge. In any case, it is for the Iranians to judge and vote for the Candidate of their liking. With a government in a crucible, at our backyard, it is important that Pakistan should study the pros and cons of things shaping up there to remain vigilant that the spillover does not affect Pakistan polity or peace.


    Is there anybody among the gang of the 8 who is not ‘close’ to the unelected Supreme Leader — but close to the Supreme Voters?


    Latest poll shows 57% the voters don’t like any of the Guidance Council choices. So much for the divine Guidance!


    What an irony — a turbaned cleric is the epitome of reform and modernity in Iranian election?

    Howsoever strange it may sound for me to write it — thank God Ayotullah Rouhani is going to win the presidential election in Iran in the very first round.

  • Anonymous

    NASAH Sb

    You have won over a few admirers in Lashkar-e-Jhangvi!

    6/7 candidates deemed ‘conservative’, moderate/reformist used to make a distinction between them. My head is already in a spin trying the grasp te subtleties.

    With the moderate reformist conservative Mr Rouhani, both Iran and Pakistan now have a conservative power set up (as does Turkey, Israel, Saudia, Britain and course tge US!). Should be a lot easier to resolve a few issues now considering all the wishy washy liberals are out of the way!

    Anyhow congratulations to the Iranians on te ocassion of electing a new President.

  • Anonymous

    NASAH Sb

    Now you’ve upset them! In perverse kind of way it seems, LeJ (TTP too, who have a strong bonding of sorts with LeJ ) have a stance on Iran more in linewith the US. Their action are certainly most detrimental for Pakistan’s future.