Elections in Iran

Four years on, Iranians need to elect a new president. More than ever, the world is either watching or just ignoring the more than complicated proceedings. That controversial figures former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s favorite Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie were even allowed to announce their candidacy (on the last minute) comes only as a surprise for some. But why should Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei bar any of the almost 700 hopefuls at the moment? This would certainly arouse bad memories of Ahmadinejad’s re-election four years ago which was inevitable.

When Gary Sick speculates that Hashemi and/or Mashaei believe that “Khamenei (1) acquiesced in their candidacy; or (2) could not prevent it; or (3) was essentially irrelevant,” he just does not take into account wisdom of an elder statesman. If, as the Guardian Council, which vets the candidacies, announced yesterday may approve up to 40 presidential hopefuls, there is any opportunity to remove unwanted figures on Khamenei’s personal request.

That Mashaie would eventually be allowed to run is highly unlikely. He doesn’t belong to the Islamic Republic’s establishment. None of his nationalistic (rather than Islamistic) ideas including his infamous statement in public in 2008 that the American and Israeli peoples are friends of Iran are supported by either the clerics nor the Revolutionary Guards. They have openly been declared as “deviant”. His closeness to Ahmadinejad is downright a disadvantage.

I do not expect Rafsanjani to run either. Four years ago, another former president, Mohammad Khatami, withdrew briefly  after he had announced his candidacy.  I had written then that “Khatami might even have perceived signals that he certainly won’t receive the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s support” which might be equivalent with blatant threats. Multi-billionaire (dollars, not toman) Rafsanjani, who had given a remarkable and certainly not forgotten Friday sermon on 17 July 2009 putting him close to the so-called Green Movement, as well as his family have to lose a lot, probably too much. Symbol of the corrupt system, he is not popular at all among the poor and even Iran’s struggling middle class in the large cities’ urban slums and the countryside who still represent Iran’s majority. He might be removed from the list by the Guardian Council  just because of his age of 78 years.

Overall, it won’t matter. There won’t be a revolt on June 14 or afterwards. Khamenei’s man will win as expected, whether it will be Saeed Jalili (civilized, smart, presentable) or Tehran’s major Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, or somebody else.

20 May 2013 @ 5:45 pm.

Last modified May 22, 2013.

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