Iranian elections: What you need to know

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Saeed Jalili attend a campaign event in Tehran, Iran, June 24, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS/File Photo
Source: Wana News Agency

Iranians will be going to the polls on Friday, June 28 to vote for a new president.  

61 million people out of a total population of over 83 million people are eligible to vote for a successor to the late President Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash in May. 4 candidates are approved to vie for the position by the Islamic Republic’s Guardian Council. This follows the withdrawal of two candidates Ghazizadeh Hashemi, 53, on June 26 and Alireza Zakani, mayor of the capital on June 27. All candidates have had just about three weeks to campaign following the demise of their predecessor.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.

Why it is important

This election is significant because there’s the need to replace the late president who died in a plane crash, creating a power vacuum.

The election is also projected to play a significant role in the determination of a new Supreme Leader who is the highest authority in Iran. The new president is likely to contribute to the selection process for a new successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader who is now 85. It is also key as the rest of the world keenly looks forward to the outcome of this election.

Raisi’s sudden death has sparked a race for the succession of the highest position in the land. He was until his death widely seen as a potential successor.

Main candidates

After the withdrawal of two candidates ahead of polls, the main candidates in the presidential race are:

  • Mohammad Baqher Ghalibaf, 62, was the speaker of parliament and former mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017. He has close ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ after serving as commander for three years.
  • Saeed Jalili, 58, a former chief nuclear negotiator. He is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council set up to resolve conflicts between parliament and the Guardian Council. He also serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader.
  • Former interior and justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, 64, is the only cleric in the race.  He is known for his role in the execution of thousands of prisoners in Iranian jails in 1988.
  • Member of parliament Masoud Pezeshkian, 69, is also in the race for the presidency in Iran. He is a heart surgeon focused on Iranian women, youth, and ethnic minorities. He also served as vice president of Iran’s parliament from 2016 to 2020.

What to look out for

After low voter turnout in the country’s March elections, there will be an interest in how many Iranians go to the polls to vote. Key issues in this election include the economy, with voters looking for candidates who can address inflation and unemployment. The nuclear deal with world powers is another major topic, as candidates' positions on this will impact Iran's foreign policy and international standing. Human rights and social freedoms are also significant issues, with many Iranians seeking greater personal freedoms and political reform.

Votes might be tallied by June 30. A simple majority for any of the candidates will mean that individual is the winner of the election and will be declared the next president of Iran. A runoff election will have to be held in July if more than one candidate gets similar numbers.

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