Friday, 25 May, 2018

A look at Iran's presidential candidates

A look at Iran's presidential candidates A look at Iran's presidential candidates
Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 16:57

Raisi says he will stick by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, that saw curbs to Iran's atomic programme in exchange for sanctions relief, but he points to the continued economic slump as proof that Rouhani's diplomatic efforts have failed. "I think Rouhani is the best choice and with anyone other than him I think our conditions would deteriorate", a young voter told Al Jazeera. The elections are also for city and village councils.

Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and four candidates for presidency have already casted their ballots in elections.

First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf were other presidential candidates who quitted the presidential race to support their favorite candidates (Rouhani and Raeisi respectively). Two other candidates are also on the ballot - conservative Mostafa Mirsalim and reformist Mostafa Hashemitaba - though they are not expected to win more than a few percent of the vote.

"For me, Mr Rouhani's dialogue with the world and moderation in society are very important", said Zahra, a 32-year-old PhD student in food science at a Tehran polling station.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday extended wide sanctions relief for Iran called for under a 2015 global nuclear deal even as he imposed narrow penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program, reported AFP.

"We demand, as we have before, that the problem of youth unemployment be solved ..." No woman has been approved to run for president. However, the supreme leader has the final say on all state matters and the Guardian Council must approve all laws passed by the parliament. US President Donald Trump has previously said that he would "rip up" the nuclear deal.

Whoever wins Friday's vote could help shape the choice of the next supreme leader, and in turn the direction of the country. He will meet with Sunni Arab leaders who are opposed to Iran's backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad and remain skeptical of its regional intentions.

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If no candidate succeeds in reaching an absolute majority, a second round will be held between two top candidates on May 26. He underwent prostate surgery in 2014, prompting speculation about his health.

His father-in-law leads Friday prayers in Mashhad and both have seats on the Assembly of Experts that will choose the next supreme leader - a position for which Raisi himself is often rumoured to be in the running.

Rouhani has made thinly veiled references to Raisi's past as a prosecutor during a period in the 1980s when many dissidents were executed.

The three-week campaign has been marked by boundary-pushing politicking among what were originally six candidates.

Voter apathy is a threat to the Islamic regime, which stakes its legitimacy on a high turnout every four years. He is believed to have the backing of the powerful Revolutionary Guards security force, as well as the tacit support of Khamenei, whose powers outrank those of the elected president but who normally steers clear of day-to-day politics. In one memorable debate moment, he criticized the Guard for launching a ballistic missile bearing the words "Israel must be wiped out" in Hebrew.

But hardline rivals hammered Rouhani over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions, even after most were rescinded following the nuclear agreement. Reformists and moderates tend to fare better when more voters make it to the polls, and a head-to-head runoff against Raisi is something he will want to avoid. More than 56,400,000 eligible voters can cast their ballots in 63,429 polling stations across Iran.


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