Elections in Iran: meet the men running for president

When the polling stations for Iran’s presidential election open on Friday, there will be four men on the ballot, but one has a significant advantage over the others.
Observers predict that the eighth president of Iran will be elected with a very low turnout amid public disillusionment and widespread disqualification of reformist and pragmatic candidates by the Council of Guardians, a twelve-person constitutional inquiry.
On Wednesday, former hardline negotiator Saeed Jalili, lawmaker Alireza Zakani and former reformist Vice President Mohsen Mehralizadeh withdrew their candidacies, leaving four men in the running.
Here’s what you need to know about the men who got to take part in the shocking race for a presidency that rampant inflation could affect how Iran approaches its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, US sanctions, and a defined ailing economy becomes.
Ebrahim Raisi, the current Chief Justice of Iran, is by far the frontrunner. He enjoys the broad support of hardliners and conservative politicians and political groups and has led the polls by a wide margin. Like the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Raisi wears a black turban, indicating that he is a Sayyid, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad of Islam.

The 60-year-old cleric is also seen as the most likely candidate to replace 82-year-old Khamenei upon his death, a point cited by an opponent in televised presidential debates as something that could lead him to do the To leave the presidency if he wins. .

Raisi grew up in the northeastern city of Mashhad, an important religious center for Shiite Muslims, where Imam Reza, the eighth Shiite imam, is buried. He attended the seminary in Qom and studied with some of the most famous clergy in Iran. His education was a point of contention in the debates, in which he said he had a law degree and denied having only six formal degrees.

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a young Raisi joined the prosecutor’s office in Masjed Soleyman in southwestern Iran and later became a prosecutor in various jurisdictions. After being appointed Deputy Public Prosecutor, he moved to the capital Tehran in 1985.
He is believed to have participated in the mass execution of political prisoners that took place in 1988 shortly after the end of the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq. He has never publicly addressed the allegations. For the next three decades he was Tehran’s prosecutor, head of the General Inspection Organization, attorney general of the Special Court for Clergy and Vice-President of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Leader appointed Raisi to head Astan-e Quds Razavi, the influential shrine of Imam Reza, in March 2016. At the head of one of Iran’s largest charitable trusts, or bonyads, Raisi gave control of billions of dollars worth of assets and consolidated his position in Mashhad’s clerical and business elite.

Raisi ran unsuccessfully against outgoing President Hassan Rouhani in the 2017 presidential election and received 38 percent of the vote, or almost 16 million votes. Khamenei named Raisi head of justice in 2019, and he has sought to bolster his position as an anti-corruption champion by targeting insiders and holding public trials, while effectively launching his presidential campaign early by traveling to almost all of Iran’s 32 provinces . Calling himself a “rival of corruption, inefficiency and aristocracy”, Raisi said he would keep the nuclear deal as a state treaty, but believes it will take a “strong” government to steer it in the right direction.
One unlikely candidate, the moderate Abdolnaser Hemmati, has tried to present himself as a realist. He became governor of the Iranian central bank in a turbulent time in 2018, shortly after US President Donald Trump broke the nuclear deal and imposed harsh sanctions that eventually spread to the entire Iranian economy.

The 64-year-old was removed from office by Rouhani earlier this month to run for president, but his opponents have tried to portray him as one of the characters behind the current dire economic situation.

A former state television journalist and a veteran of Iran’s insurance and banking sectors, Hemmati has tried to defy some of the candidates’ more eccentric promises by saying they cannot be made as the country continues

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