Hot competition for Iran's summer polls: the runners & riders, reformers & radicals

Published February 26th, 2013 - 12:12 GMT

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Ahmadinejad
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Image 1 of 10: A new ‘Central Election Board’ running the show has nudged the current president out of proceedings. Falling out of favor with the Supreme Leader has left Ahmadinejad out in the election cold with no chance of manipulating the vote, given that he is already out of the race for office, having served out his full 2-term constitutional allowance.

Mohammad Saeedikia
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Image 1 of 10: An ‘independent’ candidate only in name, current minister of housing and university Math whizz, Mohammad Saeedikia, is hot favorite for the presidential race. Despite some “heart disease” wobbles, Saeedikia claims he is fighting fit.

Manouchehr Mottaki
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Image 1 of 10: Not exactly the diplomatic type, Manouchehr Mottaki, was booted out of his job as foreign minister in 2010 as part of a shady power struggle. He called the decision “un-Islamic” and “offensive” and turned his attentions to more conservative policy makers.

Hooshang Amirahmadi
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Image 1 of 10: American-Iranian, Hooshang Amirahmadi, is the black sheep of the race. A political analyst with his eye on social media, he is not exactly favored by the Iranian establishment - who technically disqualified him for his U.S. citizenship.

Mohsen Rezai
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Image 1 of 10: Wanted by Interpol for his alleged role in the Buenos Aires bombings of a Jewish community center in 1994, Mohsen Rezai is already hitting headlines before his candidacy is even official. This ex-Revolutionary Guards chief is probably the most feared candidate in the running.

Mostafa Kavakebian
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Image 1 of 10: Initially rumored to be boycotting the elections, Iran’s reformists finally put forward Mostafa Kavakebian as their candidate du jour. The newspaper editor and friend of Hossein Mousavi will be hoping to gather in those liberal votes.

Mohammed Bokiri Kherrozi
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Image 1 of 10: Promising to “return” the lands of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan to Iran if elected, Mohammed Bokiri Kherrozi has already been courting controversy. But as general secretary of Hezbollah in Iran, Kherrozi is no stranger to a bit of international outrage.

Mohammad Shariatmadari
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Image 1 of 10: One of the founders of the feared intelligence ministry, Mohammad Shariatmadari is very much part of the establishment. The ex-commerce minister has spent years getting cosy with the Supreme Leader so could be a shoe-in come election time.

Ali Fallahian
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Image 1 of 10: International man of mystery and ex-intelligence chief, Ali Fallahian, is the second potential wanted by Interpol. Although his campaign is said to focus on the economy, many will remember his as dissident-killer rather than economic reformer.

Ayatollah Khamenei
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Image 1 of 10: Even Supreme Leaders can get tongue-tied come voting time. When Ayatollah Khamenei said, “it’s obvious that elections should be free”, he didn’t count on social media. Google marked a spike in Iranian searches for “free elections” afterwards. Oops!

With a fresh round of nuclear talks underway between Iran and the so-called P5+1, and the Iranian elections looming, the question on many an international observers’ mind is - is there anyone worse than Ahmadinejad? The current president has been the bane of successive U.S. governments, with his stance on nuclear power and stirring of anti-Western feeling.

But in his second term as president, even Ahmadinejad wasn’t hardcore enough for the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the pair fell out. That tiff, and moreover the Republic's two-term limit - a technicality that precludes a third term for the notorious head of state - has ensured that the president is left out of the new elections in June. He has not even had the chance to influence the vote, with the organization moved to the new ‘Central Election Board’ and away from the government.

So who is left in the running? A series of seasoned politicians for one, most with views that make Ahmadinejad look like a softie and pasts murkier than a CIA drone strike. But among the ex-intelligence chiefs and Revolutionary Guards are a few more intellectual types who would like to see Iran shake-off it’s ‘pariah state’ image once and for all.

Despite former liberal candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi being booted out of the competition for daring to claim that elections might be a little less than transparent and fair, others have come to the fore.

Mostafa Kavakebian is the so-called ‘reformist’ candidate and will be looking to pull together those elusive liberal votes come ballot time. But his base could be divided if American-Iranian, Hooshang Amirahmadi, is allowed back in the race.

Technically banned for his U.S. citizenship, Amirahmadi is giving the outside world some hope for the future with his radical campaign policies of giving America a chance. But despite the lofty ideals, most ordinary Iranians are looking for the same things as everyone else in their choice of president: some sensible economic policies that will put bread on the table.

Those government ministers who were booted out by Ahmadinejad during the most recent cabinet kerfuffle have been pushing their economic credentials hard. So when all is said and done, it looks like another term of much the same when it comes to the Persian state.

 

Who's your bet on for the race to lead the Islamic Republic of Iran? Will it be a cleric, an uber-conservative, a member of the Old Guard or something radically new?

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