Abb Takk News

Presidential Election To Be Held In Iran On Friday

Tehran: Iranians will vote Friday on who should be the country’s next president amid tensions with the West over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

While the race is wide open due to President Hassan Rouhani being term limited from running again, authorities barred his allies and nearly every reformist from entering the race.

That has analysts believing hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is the clear front-runner. The only competitor who represents a stand-in for Rouhani’s administration, the former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati, has argued others in the race serve as proxies for Raisi and allow the cleric to avoid criticizing him directly.

Here’s a look at the candidates competing.


Raisi, 60, is a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has vowed to combat poverty and corruption.

In 2016, Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of the Imam Reza charity foundation, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran. Khamenei called Raisi a “trustworthy and highly experienced” person, causing many to wonder if he might also be a possible successor to the supreme leader himself.

He lost his 2017 presidential challenge to Rouhani, though he earned over 15 million votes in the contest. After the loss, Khamenei appointed the former law professor to be the head of the country’s judiciary. There, he’s waged a televised anti-corruption campaign that resonated with a public frustrated by graft.

His candidacy also has revived the controversy surrounding the 1988 mass execution of thousands in Iran, one of the darkest moments of Iran’s post-revolution history still not recognized by its government. Raisi served on a panel involved in sentencing the prisoners to death. He hasn’t commented publicly on the accusation.


Hemmati, 64, served for several years at the head of Iran’s Central Bank under Rouhani and amid the renewed American sanctions that followed the U.S.’ unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal. Though serving in Rouhani’s government, he’s repeatedly described himself as an independent candidate.

Hemmati, an economics professor, has worked as the head of both private and government banks, as well as Iran’s central insurance agency. He also once served as Iran’s ambassador to China for a short period.

The technocrat has drawn attention for appointing his wife, Sepideh Shabestari, as one of his representatives and top advisers in Iran’s short election season. He’s a black belt in karate as well, something that drew the public’s interest.

Hemmati has said his goals as president include decreasing poverty through better economic ties with the world, implementing a smaller government and getting the country off of the black list of the Financial Action Task Force, an international agency that monitors terrorism funding.

Other candidates include:


Hashemi, 50, is considered by analysts to be a low-profile conservative politician. He’s served as a parliament member since 2007 and now is a member of the parliament’s board of chairmen, which manages the legislature’s affairs. An ear-nose-and-throat specialist surgeon by profession, Hashemi has vowed to restore Iran’s stock market in the first three days in office, a tough goal as the market’s value has nearly halved in the last year.


Rezaei, 66, is a former leader of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and has been a hard-line candidate in several elections. He’s wanted by Argentina on an Interpol “Red Notice” over his alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Both Rezaei and the Iranian government deny orchestrating the attack. He also faced criticism over allegedly mismanaging battles in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war and his tension with Iran’s regular military. He serves now as the secretary of Expediency Council, which arbitrates disputes between parliament and Iran’s constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council. Rezaei also threatened in Iran’s first presidential debate to imprison Hemmati.

Iran’s supreme leader has urged voters to turn out in large numbers for the June 18 presidential election, saying such a show of strength would reduce foreign pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Two hardliners and one moderate quit the field of seven officially permitted candidates on Wednesday, leaving what is shaping into a straightforward contest between the hardline head of the judiciary and a moderate former head of the central bank.

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, 60, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist stepping down after two terms.

“In less than 48 hours, a crucial event will take place in the country… By your presence and vote, you actually determine the fate of the country, in all major issues,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.

Under Iran’s ruling system, the supreme leader has the final say over state affairs, while the elected president governs the country day-to-day.

Some prominent pro-reform politicians in Iran and activists abroad have called for an election boycott, and the hashtag #NoToIslamicRepublic has been widely tweeted by Iranians inside and outside the country in the past weeks.

Official opinion polls suggest turnout could be as low as 41 percent, significantly lower than in past elections.

The election comes as Iran is negotiating in Vienna with world powers to revive a 2015 deal under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

US President Joe Biden hopes to revive the agreement, which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned. Although the agreement was a signature achievement of outgoing president Rouhani, the election is not expected to have a major impact on Iran’s negotiating position, which is set by Khamenei.

But a strong mandate for Raisi could strengthen Khamenei’s hand at home, and affect the search for an eventual successor to the 82-year-old supreme leader, in power for 32 years.

“If the new president is elected by a significant majority of the votes, he will be a powerful president and can carry out great tasks,” Khamenei said. “If we have a fall in the election turnout, we will have an increase of pressure from our enemies.”