Iran approves six candidates out of 80 for presidential election

Tehran, Jun. 10, (dpa/GNA) – Iran’s Guardian Council, an appointed council made up of six clerics and six jurists charged with interpreting Iran’s constitution, has excluded a large majority of candidates from the upcoming presidential election.

A snap election was called because the previous incumbent, Ebrahim Raisi, was killed in a helicopter accident on May 19.

A total of 80 people applied to run in the June 28 presidential election, however, only six candidates have been approved, a spokesman for the electoral authority said on Sunday on state television.

The controversial former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservative former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who was still considered a favourite, were denied the chance to run in the election.

Moderate politicians and candidates from the reform camp were also barred from running.

From the ultra-conservative camp there is Saeed Jalili, a hardliner and former chief nuclear negotiator. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is the incumbent speaker of parliament and a former general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi is considered to be another hardliner and chairman of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veteran Affairs.

Masoud Pezeshkian has been tapped as a moderate candidate and is a former health minister.

Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi is an Islamic scholar and former minister of interior and justice who is said to have played a role in the mass executions of the 1980s. Finally, Alireza Sakani is the current mayor of Tehran.

Iran’s interim president, Mohammed Mochber, was seen as a promising candidate but did not even register for the election.

In Iran, unlike many other countries, the president is not the head of state, but does lead the government. The real power is concentrated in the hands of religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The 85-year-old leader also exerts a decisive influence on the Guardian Council. As a result, citizens can only choose from a group of candidates who are loyal to the system.

The Guardian Council consists of 12 Islamic clerics and jurists, half of whom are elected by parliament and half of whom are appointed by Khamenei.

The council decides on the constitutional conformity of laws and also on the qualification of candidates in elections.

Because of its prominent role in the political system, the Guardian Council has been criticized in the past as an undemocratic body. The 97-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is chairman of the council.

Many people in Iran are disillusioned in the face of political repression, an economic crisis and the failed attempts at reform in recent decades.

They have lost faith in major domestic political change. In autumn 2022, the death of the young Kurdish woman Jina Masa Amini sparked nationwide protests against the Islamic system of rule.

Voter turnout in this year’s parliamentary elections reached a record low of around 40%.