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A brief guide to Iran’s presidential election

Iran's Guardian Council released the list of 1,636 candidates registered for the country's 12th presidential election on May 19.

Iran’s Guardian Council on April 15 released the list of 1,636 candidates registered for the country’s 12th presidential election next month.

The Guardian Council (Shora-ye Negahban-e Qanun-e Assassi) supervises elections and will qualify candidates for the May 19 vote. The council is expected to disqualify the majority of registered candidates; in 2013, it approved eight of the 680 people who registered.

Presidential candidates

President Hassan Rouhani is running for a second term and faces challenges from a number of conservatives. Rouhani’s administration, a mix of moderates and reformist party politicians, is under pressure from critics who say the 2015 nuclear deal has not yielded the promised economic benefits for Iranians.

Among the conservative candidates are Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and Rouhani’s main rival in the 2013 election. Ghalibaf is expected to stand aside shortly before to vote to support Ebrahim Raisi.

Ebrahim Raisi will represent the Islamic Revolution Forces Popular Front (Jebha-ye Mardomi-ye Niruha-ye Enqelab-e Eslami‎), a new umbrella group of Principlists, the country’s mainstream conservatives. Raisi is also a member of the Assembly of Experts (Majles-e Khobregan-e Rahbari‎), the body who will choose Iran’s next Supreme Leader after Ayat. Ali Khamenei.

On April 12, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered as a candidate, despite promises to Khamenei that he would stand down. Ahmadinejad said he registered only to support his former deputy, Hamid Baghaei, who announced his candidacy in February and is running as an independent.

Qualifications

To qualify, Iran’s constitution requires a candidate to:

  • be an Iranian national
  • be born in Iran
  • have management abilities: “administrative capacity and resourcefulness”
  • have a good record
  • be trustworthy and pious
  • demonstrate belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country’s official interpretation of Islam (madhhab)

In addition, women are barred from the presidency. There are no age restrictions.

Other candidates

Despite the ban, 137 women registered by the April 15 deadline, according to Guardian Council numbers.

Azam Taleghani, a former member of parliament and head of the Society of Islamic Revolution Women of Iran, registered on April 14. The 74-year old former journalist has been disqualified five times.

First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri registered on April 14. He told reporters he stood “side by side” with Rouhani, and he may be running in case the Guardian Council disqualifies Rouhani.

In January, Guardian Council spokesperson Abbas-Ali Kadokhodai said there was no guarantee the council would approve Rouhani to run for a second term. Two former presidents, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, were disqualified from running in later elections.

Rafsanjani’s brother Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani is registered as an independent. The 75-year old was the head of the Islamic State of Iran Broadcasting agency until 1994 and is a member of the Expediency Council (Majma’ Tashkis Maslahat Nezam), an administrative body that acts as an unofficial advisor to the Supreme Leader.

Mostafa Mirsalim, a former culture minister, is running on a platform of job creation and showed up to register wearing “blue collar” worker’s clothing and carrying a construction hat.

Other candidates include:

  • Tehran city council member Hassan Bayyadi 
  • Zarea Foomani, head of the small Popular Reformist Party
  • Former agriculture minister Jihad Sadeq Khalilian
  • Ahmad Mousavi, a former vice president and ambassador to Syria who resigned when protests began in Damascus in 2011
  • 17-year old Mohammad Kave Tajik, the youngest-ever presidential candidate
  • Chairman of the parliamentary education committee, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi
  • Alireza Zakani, a former MP who was disqualified in 2013

A Guardian Council will publish a final list after April 24 and campaigns begin on April 28.

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