Iran Releases List Of Six Presidential Candidates To Replace Raisi

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024 - 02:50 AM

Via The Cradle

On Sunday, the Iranian Ministry of Interior released the final list of candidates qualified to compete in the election for the ninth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This election will determine who will succeed the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who, along with seasoned top diplomat Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and seven others, passed away in a helicopter accident on May 19, during the third year of his presidency.

In his stead, and by the constitution, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber was named interim president. He will be replaced by a successor following an election that must take place within 50 days of Raisi’s death being declared. Candidates running for president must be approved by the 12-member Guardian Council to ensure their commitment to the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which established the Islamic Republic.

The list was provided to the Interior Ministry by the powerful Guardian Council of the Iranian Constitution, an entity consisting of six appointed clerics and six elected jurists whose main task is to vet the candidates vying for elections in Iran and certify poll results. Amid much speculation, six candidates made it to the final list, surprising many by excluding well-known figures such as three-term speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, and two-term president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The candidates are Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, Amir-Hossein Ghazi-Zadeh Hashemi, Saeed Jalili, Masoud Pezeshkian, Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi, and Alireza Zakani.

A closer look at the candidates

Mohammad-Baqer Ghalibaf

Mohammad-Baqer Ghalibaf (62 years old), a two-term lawmaker from Tehran and former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) member, has held various key positions over the past three decades. His roles include member of the Expediency Council, commander of the Police Force, and Mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017. 

Despite numerous bids for the presidency in 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and now in 2024, he has yet to succeed. His recent nomination sparked criticism as it came just five days after he secured the votes of nearly 200 lawmakers to become the speaker of the new parliament.

Amir-Hossein Ghazi-Zadeh Hashemi

Physician Amir-Hossein Ghazi-Zadeh Hashemi (53 years old) is a conservative and four-term lawmaker and was chairman of the Martyrs and War Veterans Foundation in the Raisi administration. The Guardian Council approved his candidacy in the 2021 presidential race, where he garnered less than a million votes. He is the only Raisi administration candidate to have made the Guardian Council cut, which dilutes the criticism of reformists who also only have one candidate in the running.

Saeed Jalili

Former lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (59 years old) is a politician deeply loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He has been rewarded for his loyalty by being one of Khamenei’s three representatives at the Supreme National Security Council, where he also served as secretary for seven years from 2006 to 2013. 

An Iran–Iraq war veteran who lost a leg in that conflict, Jalili is known for his firm stance during nuclear negotiations with western countries in the early 2000s. He was a vocal critic of the 2015 nuclear deal and opposed its revival under Raisi’s presidency. 

Jalili ran against President Hassan Rouhani in the 2013 election, ranking third with four million votes. He was nominated again in 2021 but withdrew in support of Raisi’s candidacy.

Masoud Pezeshkian

A heart surgeon and former health minister under President Mohammad Khatami (2001–2005), Masoud Pezeshkian (70 years old) is a five-term Reformist lawmaker from East Azerbaijan province. He is one of three candidates backed by the Reformist Front of Iran, who pledged to participate only if the Guardian Council approved at least one of their candidates. Despite accusations against him for advocating federalism and pan-Turkism, the Guardian Council’s approval of Pezeshkian’s candidacy strongly suggests these rumors are unfounded. 

Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi 

Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi (65 years old), originally from Qom, is a judge and prosecutor who rose to become senior director at Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. He served as Interior Minister under President Ahmadinejad (2005–2008) before being dismissed due to differences with him. 

Under President Rouhani, he was appointed Minister of Justice despite allegations of human rights violations related to the execution of Mujahedeen-e Khalgh Organization (MKO) members in the late 1980s. 

Pour-Mohammadi, along with the late President Raisi, was on the panel that ruled on these executions. He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts until he failed to secure enough votes in the March 2024 election.

Alireza Zakani

Alireza Zakani (59 years old) is a physician-turned-conservative politician, the current mayor of Tehran, and a four-term lawmaker from Tehran and Qom constituencies. Although he was disqualified in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, Zakani was admitted in 2021 and supported then-candidate Ebrahim Raisi. His current nomination raised suspicions that he aims to play a similar supporting role for Saeed Jalili, which he denies. 

What’s next? 

The Guardian Council has approved three physicians, a cleric, a former diplomat, and Ghalibaf, the jack of all trades. Its spokesman announced that the candidates could start their two-week campaign immediately. 

Iranians now have two weeks to decide whether to participate in the election and, if so, whom to vote for. Voter turnout in the 2021 election was 48.8 percent, one of the lowest in the Islamic Republic’s history, as Raisi received nearly 62 percent of the votes, barely reaching 18 million.

Following the large attendance for Raisi’s funeral, the Islamic Republic hopes a similar number will go to the polls on June 28 and surpass the turnout from three years ago.

In the weeks ahead, the candidates must not only appeal to their base but also reach out to undecided voters, addressing their concerns and presenting a vision that resonates with the broader population. The ability to mobilize support and inspire confidence will be crucial in determining who will lead Iran through its next chapter.

As in most mainstream polls over the past few years, the leading candidates appear to be in the conservative camp, with Jalil and Ghalibaf holding strong leads. But if past elections are any indicator, public sentiment can shift dramatically during the two short weeks of campaigning, as was seen in Rouhani’s first election, when he raced to a clear lead after trailing in polls for weeks.