Ghalibaf among six approved to run in Iran’s presidential election

Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and five other conservatives approved to run in snap vote on June 28.

Speaker of the parliament of Iran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
Speaker of the parliament of Iran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf attends a news conference after registering as a candidate for the presidential election at the Interior Ministry, in Tehran, June 3, 2024 [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Six people, including parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, have been approved to run for the snap presidential election on June 28 following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

The Guardian Council, a constitutional vetting body, approved former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani to run, but 74 others were not, marking another election with wide disqualification of candidates.

The 62-year-old Ghalibaf, a former commander of the air force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has been parliament speaker for four years, was the mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017, and the chief of police before that. He ran for president in 2005, 2013 and 2017, when he withdrew in favour of Raisi.

Jalili, who is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s direct representative to the country’s Supreme National Security Council, withdrew from the 2021 election in favour of Raisi, who won virtually unchallenged.

Most prominent among those disqualified are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the populist ex-president, as well as moderate candidate and former three-time parliament speaker Ali Larijani – both of whom did not qualify to run in 2021 as well.

Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator, speaks at a news conference after registering as a candidate for the presidential election at the Interior Ministry, in Tehran, May 30, 2024 [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Iran was slated to have its presidential election in 2025, but the vote was brought forward after Raisi died on May 19 in a helicopter crash in northern Iran. The 63-year-old Raisi was expected to secure another term in office and was a top name associated with the succession of Iran’s 85-year-old supreme leader.

Seven others, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, were also killed in the crash, which the army said in a preliminary report last month did not occur as a result of criminal activity.

Zakani, who became Tehran mayor after withdrawing in favour of Raisi in the 2021 race, said in a post on X following his qualification on Sunday that he wishes to “continue the path” of the late president.

Parliamentarian Masoud Pezeshkian, former interior and justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, and Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, the head of Iran’s Martyrs Foundation, cap the list of the six approved candidates.

The 70-year-old Pezeshkian, a veteran five-term lawmaker and former health minister, is the only candidate representing significantly weakened moderate and reformist factions of Iran’s political landscape.

Eshaq Jahangiri, the former first vice president in the administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, was among those disqualified by the Guardian Council, along with former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, who had been allowed to run in 2021 and got 8 percent of the total vote, or 2.42 million votes.

The other candidates represent the conservative and hardline political factions, which have increasingly gained prominence since the breakdown of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018.

Ghazizadeh was also approved in 2021 and received 3.45 percent, or less than a million votes. Raisi won the presidency with almost 18 million votes for a 48.8 percent turnout.

The nuclear programme and Iran’s economy challenged by high inflation and sanctions are expected to be some of the issues to be discussed during five rounds of four-hour debates that state television plans to host in the run-up to the election.

Turnout has been steadily declining in presidential and parliamentary elections since 2020, with the March 2024 parliamentary election seeing 41 percent participation, the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Source: Al Jazeera