Politics & News

Snap Election: Iran Opens Registration for Early Presidential Vote

Iran has opened registration Thursday for presidential hopefuls for an early election next month after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash earlier this month.

The presidential election, scheduled on June 28, comes amid a tense time for Tehran, as it grapples with the aftermath of Raisi’s death, heightened tensions with Washington, and domestic protests across the country.

Opening Registration

Iran’s Minister of Interior Ahmad Vahidi told the Iranian state TV that the registration process has started on Thursday.

According to Reuters, the registration period will last for 5 days. After that, the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of jurists which oversees elections and legislation, will vet the candidates and announce the final list of qualified candidates on June 11.

Vahidi said: “The vetting process will be seven days and then qualified candidates will have almost two weeks for the election campaign.”

Electoral Process

According to Iran’s electoral law, candidates’ age must be between 40 and 75. They must have at least a master’s degree. The main candidates are expected to submit their applications closer to the end of the registration period.

However, the Guardian Council faces accusations from moderate politicians that it disqualifies rivals to hardline candidates. On Thursday, state TV reported that about 30 people stepped forward to submit applications for candidacy, but “none of them met the basic conditions for qualification.”

Raisi, Iran’s late president, came to power in 2021 after the Guardian Council disqualified multiple reformist and moderate contenders who could have challenged him, according to France 24. The election at the time saw the lowest turnout in Iran’s history for a presidential election, just at 48.8%.

On May 19, 2024, a helicopter carrying Raisi, his Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, and others crashed in mountainous terrain in the province of East Azerbaijan.

Critical Timing

The new Iranian president will have to tackle an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hinders international inspections.

Moreover, Iran has armed Russia with drones in its war on Ukraine. Tehran has also engaged in Middle East tensions, by launching a drone and missile attack on Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza, and arming proxy groups in the region.

Although Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei decides all state matters, such as nuclear and foreign policies, the new president will be responsible for handling worsening economic hardship. Iran has faced years of economic distress, as a result of its collapsing currency.

In recent years, widespread protests have swept the country, the largest of which were over the death of Mahsa Amini after being arrested by the morality police in 2022. Observers expect that those issues, in addition to restricted choice on the ballot, will cast a shadow on voters’ turnout.

Potential Candidates

Hardline candidates with close ties to Khamenei are expected to dominate the upcoming presidential election in Iran. According to Al-Monitor, possible contenders include Saeed Jalili, who represents Khamenei on the Supreme National Security Council. He ran for presidency in 2013, winning more than 11% of the vote. He ran again in 2021, but withdrew and endorsed Raisi.

Former Parliament speaker Ali Larijani is another potential candidate. He is often described as a moderate and reformist in comparison to other conservatives. He ran and lost in the 2005 election and was disqualified in 2021.

Interim President Mohammad Mokhber is also among possible candidates. He became vice president in 2021. Before that, he headed the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, also known as Setad. The organization has been accused of seizing property assets to build a financial empire for Khamenei.

Former Supreme National Security Council head Ali Shamkhani is a potential contender. He served in the position from 2013 until he resigned last year. He is considered a centrist.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday that former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer Parviz Fattah could register for the presidential race, as well as Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani and Roads Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash.

In addition, the hardliner Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is another possible candidate. Reformist MP Masoud Pezeshkian announced on Sunday he will run for the office. Other possible candidates include former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and former presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani.

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