top of page

Source: NY Times

Jun 9, 2024

Iran Names Six Candidates for President, Including Parliament Speaker

The June 28 election to succeed President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month, comes as the country faces acute domestic and international challenges.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Six candidates, including the speaker of Parliament, have been approved to run in the Iranian election this month to succeed President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash last month. The vote comes at a moment when the country faces acute domestic and international challenges, state media said on Sunday.

The speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, and five other men were approved by the Guardian Council, a 12-person body that vets candidates, for the balloting on June 28, according to the state news agency IRNA, which cited Mohsen Eslami, spokesman for the country’s election headquarters.

Mr. Ghalibaf, a retired pilot and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, has run twice unsuccessfully for the country’s presidency and is a former mayor of the capital, Tehran. He became speaker of Parliament in 2020 following a legislative election.

The other candidates include a former interior minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi; Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator; and the current Tehran mayor, Alireza Zakani.

The country’s next president will be confronted with problems at home and abroad. Deep economic troubles, exacerbated by international sanctions, are fueling discontent among some Iranians who have demanded social and political freedoms as well as prosperity.

The largest recent uprising, led by women, erupted in 2022 after a young woman, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody; she was accused of improperly covering her hair under the country’s hijab laws. Those protests grew to include demands for an end to clerical rule.

On the international front, the new president will also face the “Axis of Resistance” that Tehran has adopted as its policy against the United States and Israel, including by funding Hamas and Hezbollah, armed groups based in Gaza and Lebanon, and by arming the Houthis in Yemen, who have attacked cargo ships in the Red Sea.

A long shadow war between Iran and Israel broke into the open in April when Tehran launched a volley of missiles and exploding drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly strike on an Iranian Embassy building in Damascus.

Beyond that, Iran has supplied Moscow with exploding drones that it has used in Ukraine to sap that country’s ability to resist a full-scale invasion by Russia in 2022. That has, in turn, made Tehran a central player in an indirect confrontation between the Kremlin and NATO countries, including the United States.

The next Iranian president faces critical decisions about the country’s status as a “threshold” nuclear state that could produce fuel for three or four bombs in short order. Last week, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency censured Iran over its refusal to grant inspectors access to its uranium enrichment program.

Iran has for years said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that it is not pursuing a bomb. But in recent months, several senior Iranian officials have said that it could revise its nuclear doctrine if it faced an existential threat from other nuclear countries, namely Israel and the United States.

Mr. Raisi died along with the foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, while traveling in the country’s northwest. The president had been seen as a possible successor to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his death has shifted the dynamics in the debate over who could succeed Mr. Khamenei. One possible candidate is the supreme leader’s son Mojtaba Khamenei.

While it was unclear how the June 28 election will shape questions of succession, the country’s leadership has taken steps after Mr. Raisi’s sudden death to project stability, emphasizing that the governing of the country will not be affected.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg is a London-based reporter on the Live team at The Times, which covers breaking and developing news. More about Matthew Mpoke Bigg

bottom of page