Understanding Iran’s presidential elections crisis

Iran Commentary

It appears Iran’s presidential elections, scheduled for May 19th, are becoming ever more complicated. The question of who might face the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani was a trending topic recently, including the significant news of Ebrahim Raisi‘s entry into the race (Raisi is a mullah very close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei).

The final list of six candidates in the upcoming so-called election — read selection — was announced on Thursday. The slate includes Rouhani, Raisi, Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, former Minister of Culture Mostafa Mirsalim and former Industry Minister Mostafa Hashemitaba. A first glance indicates the remaining four will most probably step aside eventually in favor of Rouhani and Raisi.

Khamenei, the highest ranking official in Iran, is facing two major political knots in the elections. His faction, known as the “hardliners” or “principalists,” has been divided over…

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