Iran's Presidential Elections: Who Is Who and What Is at Stake

Published May 7th, 2017 - 18:41 GMT

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On May 19th, Iranians are casting their ballots and choosing their new President.

For many, the election will be a decision between the moderates (led by Rouhani) and the conservatives (led by Ghalibaf and Raisi). For some, however, the decision is about whether it is worth going to the polls or not, as the elected President has limited powers and the strong influence of the Supreme Leader and unelected institutions weakens the democratic elements.

In the last week before the elections, we look at the political system in Iran, the different candidates, as well as the issues which matter to ordinary citizens.

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Iran’s political system is a combination of theocracy and republicanism in which the unelected institutions, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader, wield more power than the elected president and the parliament.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Iran’s political system is a combination of theocracy and republicanism in which the unelected institutions, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader, wield more power than the elected president and the parliament.

(Source: Mullahs, Guards, Bonyads, 2010)

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The Supreme Leader’s voice counts more than others. He is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces and has a final say in decisions of national security, international issues and domestic policy. He influences the elections through the Guardian Council that nominates the presidential candidates and approves the elected president.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11The Supreme Leader’s voice counts more than others. He is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces and has a final say in decisions of national security, international issues and domestic policy. He influences the elections through the Guardian Council that nominates the presidential candidates and approves the elected president.

(Source: AFP)

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The president is the highest elected political authority. Although he needs approval from the Supreme Leader for nearly all executive actions, he has enough power to shape Iranian’s economic, cultural, security and foreign policies.
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11The president is the highest elected political authority. Although he needs approval from the Supreme Leader for nearly all executive actions, he has enough power to shape Iranian’s economic, cultural, security and foreign policies.

(Source: (AFP/ Atta Kenare) )

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International sanctions are not among the top issues in these presidential elections as far as Iranian society is concerned. According to the Iran Poll, Iranians consider unemployment, the economic situation, high living costs and various social issues as priorities that the next president has to address.
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11International sanctions are not among the top issues in these presidential elections as far as Iranian society is concerned. According to the Iran Poll, Iranians consider unemployment, the economic situation, high living costs and various social issues as priorities that the next president has to address.

(Source: Iran Poll)

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Rouhani, incumbent president and candidate of the moderate camp, is well known for reaching the nuclear deal with the US. Yet, he does not score well in the Iran Poll. More than half of the Iranians polled said he had been unsuccessful in solving the economic problems of the country.
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Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Rouhani, incumbent president and candidate of the moderate camp, is well known for reaching the nuclear deal with the US. Yet, he does not score well in the Iran Poll. More than half of the Iranians polled said he had been unsuccessful in solving the economic problems of the country.

(Source: AFP)

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Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, from the Popular Front, is the most popular conservative candidate in the elections. If elected, he promised to provide 2.5 million Iranian Rial ($77 at the official exchange rate) a month to every jobless Iranian, create 5 million jobs and increase incomes by 250 percent.
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, from the Popular Front, is the most popular conservative candidate in the elections. If elected, he promised to provide 2.5 million Iranian Rial ($77 at the official exchange rate) a month to every jobless Iranian, create 5 million jobs and increase incomes by 250 percent.

(Source: AFP)

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Ebrahim Raisi, manager of the Reza Shrine, is the second conservative candidate with real chances in the elections. Although his popularity is comparably low, his close ties to the Supreme Leader might pave his way into office. If elected, he has promised to triple monthly cash subsidy payments to the poor and create 1.5 million jobs per year.
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Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Ebrahim Raisi, manager of the Reza Shrine, is the second conservative candidate with real chances in the elections. Although his popularity is comparably low, his close ties to the Supreme Leader might pave his way into office. If elected, he has promised to triple monthly cash subsidy payments to the poor and create 1.5 million jobs per year.

(Source: AFP)

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When comparing the three most popular candidates on the priority issues identified by the Iranian people, conservative candidate Ghalibaf has the highest chances of winning the elections, followed by Rouhani. Yet, Ghalibaf is expected to step down in support of Raisi before May 19, although he might refuse to do so, given his popularity.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11When comparing the three most popular candidates on the priority issues identified by the Iranian people, conservative candidate Ghalibaf has the highest chances of winning the elections, followed by Rouhani. Yet, Ghalibaf is expected to step down in support of Raisi before May 19, although he might refuse to do so, given his popularity.

(Source: Iran Poll)

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Eshaq Jahangiri (l) and Mostafa Hashemitaba (c) from the moderate camp as well as Mostafa Mir Salim (r) from the conservative camp are the remaining three candidates running for election. However, Jahangiri and Hashemitaba are expected to drop out in order to promote Rouhani, while Mostafa Mir Salim is expected to back either Ghalibaf or Raisi.
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Eshaq Jahangiri (l) and Mostafa Hashemitaba (c) from the moderate camp as well as Mostafa Mir Salim (r) from the conservative camp are the remaining three candidates running for election. However, Jahangiri and Hashemitaba are expected to drop out in order to promote Rouhani, while Mostafa Mir Salim is expected to back either Ghalibaf or Raisi.

(Source: AFP)

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The ban on social media hurts particularly the moderate camp, as more than a million of followers of Rouhani on Instagram indicate. By contrast, public media is more favorable to the conservative candidates. The head of the public TV broadcaster, IRIB, who hosts the three presidential debate sessions, is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11The ban on social media hurts particularly the moderate camp, as more than a million of followers of Rouhani on Instagram indicate. By contrast, public media is more favorable to the conservative candidates. The head of the public TV broadcaster, IRIB, who hosts the three presidential debate sessions, is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

(Source: AFP)

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And where are the women? Iranian law does not explicitly ban women from running for president, but the Guardian Council has never allowed any to stand. Yet, their concerns cannot completely be ignored by the government. Women are politically active, have held several public offices including the vice-president and are also allowed to cast ballots.
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Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11And where are the women? Iranian law does not explicitly ban women from running for president, but the Guardian Council has never allowed any to stand. Yet, their concerns cannot completely be ignored by the government. Women are politically active, have held several public offices including the vice-president and are also allowed to cast ballots.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge

1

Iran’s political system is a combination of theocracy and republicanism in which the unelected institutions, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader, wield more power than the elected president and the parliament.

Image 1 of 11Iran’s political system is a combination of theocracy and republicanism in which the unelected institutions, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader, wield more power than the elected president and the parliament.

(Source: Mullahs, Guards, Bonyads, 2010)

2

The Supreme Leader’s voice counts more than others. He is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces and has a final say in decisions of national security, international issues and domestic policy. He influences the elections through the Guardian Council that nominates the presidential candidates and approves the elected president.

Image 2 of 11The Supreme Leader’s voice counts more than others. He is the head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces and has a final say in decisions of national security, international issues and domestic policy. He influences the elections through the Guardian Council that nominates the presidential candidates and approves the elected president.

(Source: AFP)

3

The president is the highest elected political authority. Although he needs approval from the Supreme Leader for nearly all executive actions, he has enough power to shape Iranian’s economic, cultural, security and foreign policies.

Image 3 of 11The president is the highest elected political authority. Although he needs approval from the Supreme Leader for nearly all executive actions, he has enough power to shape Iranian’s economic, cultural, security and foreign policies.

(Source: (AFP/ Atta Kenare) )

4

International sanctions are not among the top issues in these presidential elections as far as Iranian society is concerned. According to the Iran Poll, Iranians consider unemployment, the economic situation, high living costs and various social issues as priorities that the next president has to address.

Image 4 of 11International sanctions are not among the top issues in these presidential elections as far as Iranian society is concerned. According to the Iran Poll, Iranians consider unemployment, the economic situation, high living costs and various social issues as priorities that the next president has to address.

(Source: Iran Poll)

5

Rouhani, incumbent president and candidate of the moderate camp, is well known for reaching the nuclear deal with the US. Yet, he does not score well in the Iran Poll. More than half of the Iranians polled said he had been unsuccessful in solving the economic problems of the country.

Image 5 of 11Rouhani, incumbent president and candidate of the moderate camp, is well known for reaching the nuclear deal with the US. Yet, he does not score well in the Iran Poll. More than half of the Iranians polled said he had been unsuccessful in solving the economic problems of the country.

(Source: AFP)

6

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, from the Popular Front, is the most popular conservative candidate in the elections. If elected, he promised to provide 2.5 million Iranian Rial ($77 at the official exchange rate) a month to every jobless Iranian, create 5 million jobs and increase incomes by 250 percent.

Image 6 of 11Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, from the Popular Front, is the most popular conservative candidate in the elections. If elected, he promised to provide 2.5 million Iranian Rial ($77 at the official exchange rate) a month to every jobless Iranian, create 5 million jobs and increase incomes by 250 percent.

(Source: AFP)

7

Ebrahim Raisi, manager of the Reza Shrine, is the second conservative candidate with real chances in the elections. Although his popularity is comparably low, his close ties to the Supreme Leader might pave his way into office. If elected, he has promised to triple monthly cash subsidy payments to the poor and create 1.5 million jobs per year.

Image 7 of 11Ebrahim Raisi, manager of the Reza Shrine, is the second conservative candidate with real chances in the elections. Although his popularity is comparably low, his close ties to the Supreme Leader might pave his way into office. If elected, he has promised to triple monthly cash subsidy payments to the poor and create 1.5 million jobs per year.

(Source: AFP)

8

When comparing the three most popular candidates on the priority issues identified by the Iranian people, conservative candidate Ghalibaf has the highest chances of winning the elections, followed by Rouhani. Yet, Ghalibaf is expected to step down in support of Raisi before May 19, although he might refuse to do so, given his popularity.

Image 8 of 11When comparing the three most popular candidates on the priority issues identified by the Iranian people, conservative candidate Ghalibaf has the highest chances of winning the elections, followed by Rouhani. Yet, Ghalibaf is expected to step down in support of Raisi before May 19, although he might refuse to do so, given his popularity.

(Source: Iran Poll)

9

Eshaq Jahangiri (l) and Mostafa Hashemitaba (c) from the moderate camp as well as Mostafa Mir Salim (r) from the conservative camp are the remaining three candidates running for election. However, Jahangiri and Hashemitaba are expected to drop out in order to promote Rouhani, while Mostafa Mir Salim is expected to back either Ghalibaf or Raisi.

Image 9 of 11Eshaq Jahangiri (l) and Mostafa Hashemitaba (c) from the moderate camp as well as Mostafa Mir Salim (r) from the conservative camp are the remaining three candidates running for election. However, Jahangiri and Hashemitaba are expected to drop out in order to promote Rouhani, while Mostafa Mir Salim is expected to back either Ghalibaf or Raisi.

(Source: AFP)

10

The ban on social media hurts particularly the moderate camp, as more than a million of followers of Rouhani on Instagram indicate. By contrast, public media is more favorable to the conservative candidates. The head of the public TV broadcaster, IRIB, who hosts the three presidential debate sessions, is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

Image 10 of 11The ban on social media hurts particularly the moderate camp, as more than a million of followers of Rouhani on Instagram indicate. By contrast, public media is more favorable to the conservative candidates. The head of the public TV broadcaster, IRIB, who hosts the three presidential debate sessions, is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

(Source: AFP)

11

And where are the women? Iranian law does not explicitly ban women from running for president, but the Guardian Council has never allowed any to stand. Yet, their concerns cannot completely be ignored by the government. Women are politically active, have held several public offices including the vice-president and are also allowed to cast ballots.

Image 11 of 11And where are the women? Iranian law does not explicitly ban women from running for president, but the Guardian Council has never allowed any to stand. Yet, their concerns cannot completely be ignored by the government. Women are politically active, have held several public offices including the vice-president and are also allowed to cast ballots.

(Source: AFP)

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