Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei has long expressed his support for a “young and hezbollahi” government with a president in the mould of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
With the Presidential elections coming up in June, the state media is focusing on possible candidates, as various officials have already put their names forward, but as the decision is ultimately in the hands of Khamenei, which one is looking most promising?
Probably Hossein Dehghan. This former Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) official and Defence Minister is currently the most important candidate, but the state-run IRNA news agency warns that “military figures” will not help ease the growing tensions that could see the clerical system swept from power.
Other important candidates are:
- current judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, known for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners
- Mullahs’ founder’s grandson Hassan Khomeini, although Khamenei asked Khomeini to withdraw his candidacy with the hopes of preventing protests
- former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who Khamenei has also tried to block coverage of
However, the ILNA also notes that who wins is less important than whether Iranians are turning up to vote, as a large boycott is planned to protest the mullahs’ corruption and show the need for regime change.
The piece read: “The most important element that can bring people to the ballot boxes is the officials’ apology to the people for their shortcomings. In today’s society, we are witnessing people giving a cold shoulder and showing indifference to the elections, and if these circumstances continue it is predicted that there will be a sharp decline in votes.”
The Aftab Yazd wrote that many Iranians also feel that their participation in the elections is irrelevant because nothing changes for the people, no matter the faction in power. This, plus the dire economic situation, has led to despair and the paper warns that it won’t be easy to regain the people’s trust.
While the Vaght Sobh advised that the people’s main issue is how economic problems are caused by government policies, which is why a significant proportion of the country will boycott the elections.
This is not out of the blue. In the parliamentary elections of February 2020, the officials recorded their lowest ever turnout, even though they’d hidden evidence about the pandemic to get people to come out and vote.
The Iranian opposition wrote: “Whether Khamenei gives the green light to the current candidates or takes the risk to nominate Raisi as his main candidate for the 2021 presidential elections is one issue to keep an eye on in the coming days.”