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Iran's Presidential Election Candidates: Hardliners Dominate Lineup with Only One Reformist

Iran's June 28 election features 5 hardliners, 1 reformist, and excludes key moderates like Ahmadinejad and Larijani.

By Mackenzie Crow

6/10, 04:08 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Iran's snap presidential election on June 28 will feature six candidates, predominantly hardliners, with only one reformist.
  • Disqualified candidates include former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and key figures from Hassan Rouhani’s administration, highlighting the limited influence of moderates.
  • The election occurs amid Middle East tensions, with significant implications for US-Iran relations and regional stability.

Iran's Presidential Election Candidates

Iran's upcoming snap presidential election will feature a lineup dominated by establishment hardliners, with only one reformist candidate among the six approved to compete. The election, set for June 28, was triggered by the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month. The Guardian Council, a powerful authority overseeing elections, approved the six-man list from 80 individuals who had registered.

The candidates include:

  • Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, parliament's speaker and former IRGC officer
  • Saeed Jalili, ex-nuclear negotiator
  • Alireza Zakani, Mayor of Tehran
  • Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, surgeon and former lawmaker
  • Mostafa Pourmohammadi, former minister of justice and interior minister
  • Masoud Pezeshkian, reformist legislator

Pezeshkian, the sole reformist, is known for his measured criticisms of hardline centers of power, especially under the Raisi administration. He demanded transparency regarding the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022 and urged restraint in the protests that followed. The candidates have until June 27 to campaign and are expected to participate in five live debates on national television.

Disqualified Candidates

Prominent figures disqualified from the race include former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and veteran politician Ali Larijani, both previously barred from the 2021 ballot. Several members of former President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, including his vice president Eshagh Jahangiri, were also barred. This exclusion highlights the limited influence moderates and reformists now wield in Iranian politics.

Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who participated in the 2021 election and came fourth, is among the candidates, while Jalili and Zakani had withdrawn from the previous race in support of Raisi. The final list of candidates underscores the dominance of hardliners in the political landscape.

Regional and International Context

The election takes place amid a crisis and uncertainty in the Middle East, with Israel continuing its offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Iran, a key supporter of Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, has already been drawn into the conflict, conducting its first direct military strike on Israel in April. Both Hamas and Hezbollah's military wing are designated as terrorist organizations by the US and EU.

The US will be closely watching the election outcome as hostilities with Tehran simmer over the Israel-Hamas war and Iran’s contested nuclear program. The election results could have significant implications for regional stability and international relations.