Iran: Everything Ready for Presidential Elections

Analysts: outcome of the vote will have little impact on the future of Tehran's nuclear program

Donne iraniane con il ritratto della guida religiosa suprema dell'Iran, l'ayatollah, Ali Khamenei

On Friday, June 28, more than 61 million eligible Iranian citizens will go to the polls to elect a successor to the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on May 19. Authorities fear mass no-shows, and days before the election, the Islamic Republic’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appealed to the nation to guarantee the Iranian people “active participation in the elections.” In his speech, Khamenei emphasized “the importance of these snap elections” aimed, among other things, at demonstrating to the world “the unity of the Iranian people in the face of external pressure.”

The Ayatollah emphasized the importance of mass participation in the elections, citing high voter turnout as one of the reasons for the Islamic Republic’s victory over its enemies: “Iran’s strength does not lie in possessing many missiles,” the supreme leader emphasized, “but mainly in the active participation of its citizens in the electoral process.” Iran’s political leaders can’t help but worry about another possible low voter turnout after a very low 59 percent turnout was recorded in parliamentary elections in March.

Of the more than 80 candidates who have presented themselves for election, the Guardian Council, a body of six theologians appointed by Khamenei and six jurists approved by parliament whose job it is to check the suitability of candidates, only six are admitted as candidates, two of whom – Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi and Saeed Jalili – are considered “ultra-conservatives,” three others – Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Mustafa Pourmohammadi, and Alireza Zakani – are viewed as “pragmatists,” and there is only one “black sheep,” Massoud Pezeshkian, a candidate belonging to the “reformist” camp.

According to the Iranian press, “the real intrigue is likely to play out between Pezeshkian, Jalili, and Ghalibaf, the current chairman of the Iranian parliament,” with the latter considered the favorite.

In terms of international relations, the central theme of the election and future presidency will be the nuclear program, which Tehran has been working on in recent years and which represents a major source of concern for Israel and the USA. Nevertheless, according to Iranian and international analysts, the election of one or another candidate to the presidency of the Islamic Republic “should not mean significant changes in either Tehran’s nuclear policy or foreign policy,” as they remain “the prerogative of the supreme leader, the true pillar of Iranian power.”

But there are those who argue that the success of Iran’s military nuclear program could encourage many neighboring countries, from Turkey to Egypt and even Saudi Arabia, to accelerate similar nuclear programs, making the entire world much more unstable and dangerous.