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Iran's snap presidential vote: All you need to know

Jun 04, 2024 04:34 AM IST

According to Iranian law, to be eligible for the presidency, candidates must be aged 40 to 75, hold at least a university master's degree.

Eighty Iranians have registered their candidacy for the country's June 28 presidential elections, brought forward by the death of Ebrahim Raisi, but many may still be disqualified before campaigning begins.

- Who has applied? -

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poses for a picture as he registers his candidacy for Iran's upcoming presidential election in Tehran on June 2, 2024. (AFP)

At the end of the five-day registration period on Monday, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said 80 presidential hopefuls have submitted their candidacy.

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They include more conservative and even ultraconservative figures than moderates or reformists, as well as a number of middle-ranking clerics and four women.

The best-known candidate is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wishes, at 67, to return to the post of president which he held for two consecutive terms from 2005 to 2013.

The populist politician is associated with incendiary remarks about Israel and simmering tensions with the West, particularly over the Iranian nuclear programme.

Other senior figures in the Islamic republic are also in the running: current parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a conservative, former speaker Ali Larijani, a moderate figure, and Saeed Jalili, an ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator.

As he submitted his bid on Monday, Ghalibaf said he was hopeful that, if elected, he could resolve the problems of the country including "reduction in purchasing power, poverty, discrimination, inequality and sanctions".

Iran has been gripped by biting Western sanctions mostly over its nuclear programme but also for its human rights record and military cooperation with Russia.

The candidate list -- which is not yet final -- also includes Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani, former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist former first vice-president.

ALSO READ| Iran parliament speaker Ghalibaf launches presidential bid

- Can all 80 compete? -

Hopefuls must first be given the green light by the Guardian Council, an unelected body dominated by conservatives which vets all candidates for public office.

The 12-strong body of jurists, who are either appointed or approved by the supreme leader, has until June 11 to decide which of the candidates would be authorised to campaign for presidency.

In the 2021 election, the council only approved seven candidates out of 592 applicants, and struck down presidential bid by numerous reformist and moderate personalities.

This had allowed Raisi, then a candidate from the conservative and ultraconservative camp, to be easily elected in the first round.

Faced with a limited choice, many voters shunned the 2021 polls: participation reached just under 49 percent, the lowest rate for any presidential elections since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Among this year's candidates, Ahmadinejad has already been disqualified twice, in 2017 and 2021, when Larijani and Jahangiri were too.

According to Iranian law, to be eligible for the presidency, candidates must be aged 40 to 75, hold at least a university master's degree and be loyal to the Islamic republic.

- Can a woman be elected? -

No women have been allowed to run for president since 1979, but the Guardian Council in 2021 ruled that there it was not legally banned.

One woman had entered the race in 1997, but her candidacy was rejected.

This year, four women, all former lawmakers, have submitted their candidacy.

One of them is the conservative Zohreh Elahian, who has defended the compulsory wearing of the veil for women and backed the authorities' response to a months-long wave of protests after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in late 2022.

The European Union has subsequently sanctioned Elahian for "human rights violations in Iran".

- How powerful is the president? -

Unlike many countries, the Iranian president is not the head of state, and the ultimate authority in the Islamic republic is the supreme leader -- a post held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for 35 years.

But the president still has an important role in directing the government and its policies.

On Monday, Khamenei called the upcoming vote "a big deal" and urged Iranians to participate in "great numbers".

The Islamic republic abolished the office of the prime minister in a constitutional referendum in 1989, 10 years after the revolution.

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