Iran on Tuesday announced the seven candidates for the June 18 presidential election, after clearing the campaign of the strict cleric who leads the country’s judiciary and vetoing that of a former parliament speaker allied with the current president.
The Guardian Council’s decision makes the favorite the head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, who ran against the president, Hassan Ruhani, in 2017. He is the best known of the contenders, and opinion polls showed that his anti-corruption campaign had the support of Iranians.
The announcement on state TV failed to mention the fact that former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who allied himself with Ruhani in recent years, had been vetoed.
Larijani had presented himself as a pragmatic candidate who would back the crucial 2015 nuclear deal that Ruhani signed with international powers. That deal is now in a sticky situation, as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate Tehran and Washington’s return to its terms.
Neither the nominations of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nor Ruhani’s first vice president, reformist Eshaq Jahangiri, were accepted. Ahmadinejad ignored a warning from the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017 and submitted a candidacy, which was also rejected by the Guardian Council.
During an earlier session of parliament on Tuesday, lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeigi said Ahmadinejad’s house had been under siege by security forces since the previous day. He also warned that the decision would affect turnout. Iran’s theocracy, which followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has based its legitimacy in part on voter turnout.
Authorities approved only seven of 590 petitions referred to the committee of clerics and jurists overseen by Khamenei, Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said, in remarks quoted by state television.
In 2017, 1,630 applications were submitted.