Iran focuses on presidential election after mourning Ibrahim Raisi

Following a period of mourning for President Ibrahim Raisi, who died in a recent helicopter crash, Iran has turned its attention to next month’s elections.

The conservative camp, which aims to install a loyalist to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has drawn a wide range of hopefuls from across the political spectrum in the run-up to an early vote on June 28.

Registration for presidential candidates begins Thursday.

Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday reconfirmed former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Bakar Ghalibab as speaker of parliament. Ghalibaf has been touted by insiders and Iranian state media as a potential candidate for the presidency. AP reported.

Also Read: Who Is Ibrahim Raisi? A bodyguard of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

The ultraconservative Raisi, who had more than a year left in his first term, died on May 19 in a helicopter crash along with his foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdullahian, and six others. The accident occurred when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed into a snowy mountainside.

Meanwhile, they were honored with a multi-day funeral, which attracted huge crowds of mourners.

The June election is scheduled during a volatile period marked by the ongoing Gaza conflict between Israel and the Tehran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas. It comes amid diplomatic tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

In addition, Iran faces significant economic challenges from the reimposition of tough international sanctions following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, and after widespread anti-government protests.

Who are all the presidential candidates?

Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over state affairs, tasked Raisi’s vice president, 68-year-old Mohammad Mogbar, with overseeing interim responsibilities and organizing June elections. AP reported.

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Mogbar, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and several other prominent former officials plan to run for Iran’s second-highest post, according to media reports.

Among the contenders, ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili emerged as one of the early candidates to announce his bid for the presidency.

Also read: What’s on the horizon for Iran’s government after Ibrahim Raisi’s death?

Other notable hopefuls include moderate former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and centrist Ali Larijani.

Reported by APPopulist former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so far kept voters guessing, saying he was „checking the conditions to decide whether to register.”

„We have to wait for positive developments in the country,” he added.

lead the way

Political expert Abbas Abdi told the Reformist newspaper Hammihan If Iran’s „opposition society” sees an opportunity for change, it will „express its opposition, activity and responsibility by participating in elections”.

Also read: Western officials brace for volatile Iran after Raisi death

„Reformers are certain to win by a large margin,” but only if they are allowed to run — a major concern after several candidates were disqualified ahead of recent elections, he said.

Abdi added that if the authorities allow a large number of candidates to contest this time, „it will create the necessary confidence in the people and lead to more participation”.

Also Read: Ibrahim Raisi dies in helicopter crash: What does Iranian president’s death mean for India-Iran relations?

Under Iran’s election procedures, candidates have a designated deadline starting May 30 to officially register their candidacy. However, the final list depends on a vetting process conducted by the conservative-leaning Guardian Council following the June 3 registration deadline.

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The 12-member body, which oversees elections, has disqualified numerous candidates, including figures such as Ahmadinejad and Larijani.

Recent parliamentary and presidential elections have seen a decline in voter turnout despite government efforts to encourage participation.

Ahead of Iran’s parliamentary elections on March 1, the Guardian Council disqualified tens of thousands of candidates, mainly from reformist and moderate factions.

This experimental process effectively consolidated the influence of conservative and ultra-conservative politicians on Iran’s political landscape. After 1979, the March Assembly elections recorded the lowest voter turnout.

(with inputs from AP)

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