Iran's 7th President: Who has registered?
One of the more curious features of recent Presidential elections in Iran has been the number of people who register themselves as candidates. In 2009 it was 475, still a good few hundreds less than 2005. This year no less than 686 Iranians showed their interest to run their country. Most of these dreamers would of course see their dreams crushed as soon as the Guardian Council announces the result of its 'vetting' process. No one knows how many would pass this hurdle. And not everyone from those who do will appear on the ballot on 14 June.
What comes below is a sort of introduction to the few who have registered and do have some track-record in politics of the Islamic Republic. We will update the list as some resign in favour of others - and of course after the Guardian Council announces 'the approved'.
As rarely anyone trusts the phrase, 'in no particular order', and as we believe the 'alphabetical order' to be both banal and uninformative, we have decided to compile the list in a 'seriousness-ical' order, that is, based on our evaluation of how serious a candidate is in his pursuit, and how likely it is that he's still in the race on election day. The outcome is anyone's guess - at this stage at least. So the list below doesn't claim to reflect the candidates' chance of winning, but merely the probability of their survival right to the end.
Saeed Jalili - 47
As the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, he has been in charge of Iran's nuclear negotiations since 2007. In line with the Supreme Leader, he advocates a policy of non-compromise. He can be placed in the far right of the religio-political spectrum of the Islamic Republic. He is a veteran of the Iraq-Iran war, in which he lost a leg. Before 2007, he held various posts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the deputy for European and American Affairs. He holds a doctorate in political science with a thesis on political thought in the Qur'an and foreign policy in Islam.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - 78
A former President, former Speaker of the Parliament, and currently the Head of the Expediency Council, he is widely regarded as the archetype of 'middle ground' in the politics of the Islamic Republic. He's certainly the biggest name in 2013 election, which could help him in his campaign or cost him dearly, as many point to his unrivaled role in the formative years of the Islamic state - both in a negative and a positive sense. In recent years, he's seen his influence dwindle as the 'new-right' dominates the politics and the economy of Iran, a force that attacks this quintessential old-guard for his lack of 'unreserved loyalty' to the Leader.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf - 51
A former commander of the IRGC Air Force, he's been Mayor of Tehran since 2005. He is a conservative with unquestionable loyalty to the Leader, yet has managed to re-brand himself as an able technocrat who 'gets the job done.' His critics say his accomplishments in the Capital should be viewed in the light of his hardline politics - referring, often, to the now infamous letter to the Reformist (then President) Khatami, in which a number of IRGC commanders threatened to take matters in their hands. He stood for election in 2005 and became fourth. In his 2013 manifesto he has called for a diplomacy of 'realistic principle-ism' to replace 'political romanticism'.
Mohsen Rezaee - 58
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps during the war with Iraq, this is his third attempt to enter the presidential palace. Since 1997, he's been the Secretary of the Expediency Council and, although a conservative, is running as an "independent". In his election manifesto published under the slogan "Plural Government and Society of Hope", he has criticised partisan approach to economics, and promised a mixture of "economic federalism" and centralised civil and military administration. He has been reported to say he would increase the amount of monthly payments to all Iranians, initiated by Ahmadinejad to reimburse for rolling back energy subsidies.
Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard - 60
The First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, of which he has been a Member since 2000. He is also a member of the Association of Combatant Clergy (ACA), a conservative grouping whose influence in the political scene has been on the wane for some time. Accordingly, he has re-adjusted himself and is now associated more with 'principle-ism' - perhaps better understood as the 'new Right'. He is entering the race as the candidate of the so-called Coalition of the Five, but his nomination has been questioned by some other members of the coalition. He is unlikely to leave the scene in favor of Rafsanjani, a founding member of ACA, who is viewed as a rival to the 'principle-ists'.
Kamran Baqeri Lankarani - 48
A qualified doctor, he held the position of Health Minister during Ahmadinejad's first term in office and is the official candidate for Front of Islamic Revolution Stability, an ultra-conservative grouping with close ties to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. He is yet to launch an official manifesto, but seems to be concentrating on "justice" as the mainstay of his future government, while distancing himself from his former boss over the latter's actions in the lead-up to the forthcoming elections.
Ali Fallahian - 64
A member of the Haghani Circle, former presidential candidate and the Minister of Intelligence in early 1990s, he is accused of ordering acts of terrorism in and outside Iran during his time in office, include the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina and the assassination of Kurdish-Iranian politicians in a German restaurant. He has chosen "Advanced Islamic Country" as his campaign slogan and promised to "fight inflation and create jobs". He has also implied a softer approach to nuclear negotiations and possible compromise.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei - 52
Ahmadinejad's closest aide, and Chief of Staff who's been attacked by all but the President himself. The conservatives accuse him of 'deviance', mostly for his controversial remarks regarding Islam, Iran and his brand of religious nationalism. He does indeed play on the pseudo-nationalistic sentiments of many Iranians who revel in a pre-Islamic, 'Persian glory'. Many see this as a mere vote-winning tactic. He is widely regarded as Ahmadinejad's Medvedev, facilitating, by his election, the return to power of Putin after four years. Before that, however, he needs to be approved by the Guardian Council, which is all but straightforward, not least because the Leader's disapproval of him is a fact.
Ali Akbar Velayati - 68
A paediatrician by training, he was Iran's Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1997, and has been the Leader's Advisor on International Affairs since. Like many other pragmatic-conservatives, he has moved to the right, and identifies more with 'principle-ism'. Most recently, he criticised his ex-boss Rafsanjani for 'abandoning' the Leader following the 2009 election and the ensuing protests. Still, some 'principle-ists' regard his ties with Rafsanjani as too close. He, Ghalibaf and Haddad Adel, the so-called '1+2', have agreed to back the one among them who leads the polls before the election. Thus, he would most probably have to leave the scene to Ghalibaf. Unless he reneges on the promise.
Gholam Ali Haddad Adel - 68
Member of Parliament since 2000 and its former Speaker, he also teaches western philosophy in Tehran University. He is a conservative and has close family ties with the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, whose son is married to his daughter. Although short of any actual policy declaration, his record suggests a more robust approach to the nuclear negotiations with the West. He is one of the three 'principle-ist' candidates in the '2+1 Coalition' who have pledged to chose a single person among themselves before the elections. He is behind Ghalibaf and Velayati in the polls and would have to turn his back to their coalition, or opt out.
Mohammad Saeedi-kia - 67
A civil engineer who has been a member of different cabinets in various capacities, he last served as Minister of Housing and Urban Development between 2005-09. Although traditionally a conservative, he has been described as an "independent" candidate. He has chosen to concentrate on the state of the economy and called for greater investment, while criticising the previous presidents for their partisan politics and "promising a lot and delivering very little". He is likely to opt out in favor of his ex-boss, Rafsanjani.
Hassan Rouhani - 64
The former Secretary to the Supreme National Security Council, he was the top Iranian negotiator over its nuclear stand-off with the West until 2005, hence the nickname "diplomat Sheikh". A traditional conservative who has been pushed towards the centre in recent years, he has promised a "Government of Deliberation and Hope", with strong emphasis on the economy and an end to foreign sanctions. He has criticised Iran's foreign policy as "confrontational and costly" in his election manifesto. He's said either Rafsanjani or him would be on the ballot on election day, which makes his opt-out very likely.
Mohammad Reza Aref - 61
An electrical engineer and university lecturer, he held the office of the vice-president during Mohammad Khatami's second term in office and is regarded as a reformist candidate with "moderate" views. He has entered the competition under the banner of "Livelihood, Eminence and Rationality" and promised a "swift end" to the nuclear stand-off through "greater political engagement", while delivering greater economic growth. He had said he would opt out in favor of Rafsanjani before the latter registered.
Hassan Sobhani - 60
Has nominated himself as an 'independent' with the slogan, "Government of Law". He was a Member of Parliament from 1996 to 2008 and currently teaches economy at the University of Tehran. He claims to have been opposed to depositing subsidies directly to every Iranian's account, but says because Ahmadinejad has started this policy, the government has to 'continue paying for a defensible period of time.' May get through the 'vetting', but doesn't stand a chance to win the election.
Mohammad Gharazi - 72
An electrical engineer, he served as the Minister of Oil before becoming the Minister of Information and Communications Technology during the first two decades of the Islamic Republic. He is a member of the Executives of Construction Party which holds a reform-minded and technocratic agenda. Like many other candidates, he has chosen to concentrate on the economy, saying his target is to control inflation by forming what he calls an "Anti-inflation Government". He is most likely to opt-out in favor of his ex-boss, Rafsanjani.