Iran’s hardline judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, has announced that he will run in the June 18 presidential election
Once lambasted for his alleged involvement in mass executions of political
prisoners in the 1980s, Raisi has recast
himself as a populist, campaigning
against corruption, talking to ordinary
people about their court cases and travelling to deprived provinces during the
Raisi is seen as the leading candidate
but will be challenged by pro-reform
politicians on a list that will be vetted
by the Guardian Council, the hardline
Before officially registering his nomination at the interior ministry on Saturday, the 60-year-old cleric said incremental changes in the country had not
helped it achieve the goal of becoming a
strong Iran. “The result of the election
should be real development to bring
back hope and enthusiasm to society,” he said. “In the near future, the
bitter feelings of injustice . . . will turn
into the sweet and desirable taste of
implementation of justice.”
President Hassan Rouhani, a centrist
politician who gambled on agreeing the
2015 nuclear accord with world powers,
will step down this summer after two
terms in office. Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the nuclear
agreement in 2018 and impose tough
sanctions on Iran was a huge blow to
Rouhani and the pro-reform forces who
had supported his candidacy.
Reformists must win the support of
Iranians who backed Rouhani in his
2017 landslide victory over Raisi but
who have said they will never vote again
in protest against the economic hardship caused by US sanctions and the
Many Iranians believe having a hardliner such as Raisi as president would
make no real difference as pro- and antireform politicians are all the same.
First vice-president Es’haq Jahangiri
is the main reformist candidate. He
acknowledged on Saturday that public
trust in the ruling institutions had
declined and that many people no
longer believed their votes could make a
He warned Iranians that the country’s
situation was alarming and could get
worse if they remained passive.
“I understand that many compatriots
are upset about misgovernance and
have no hopes in the elections,” he said.
“We have no other choice but to revive
the ballot boxes.”
As a member of the outgoing government, Jahangiri is held responsible by
many Iranians, including business figures, for their suffering and Rouhani’s
poor economic record.
Ali Larijani, a 63-year-old centrist
politician and former parliamentary
speaker, is another top candidate who
registered on Saturday morning. He is
mostly known internationally as Iran’s
former nuclear negotiator.
Larijani backed Iran’s president during previous nuclear negotiations and
his role in the legislative body was crucial. By standing against hardline forces,
he enabled Rouhani to strike the accord
with world powers.
The biggest challenge of the election is
the expected low turnout.