Iran Election :-In the latest of closely watched elections across the globe, many Iranians will head to the polls on May 19 to cast their ballot for president.
To win, a candidate must earn more than 50 percent of the vote. If no one can claim a majority, the top two competitors will face a runoff in a week. Whoever wins will serve as president of the theocratic republic for a four-year term.
1. Is the Iran election democratic?
Hardly. Just because a country holds elections doesn’t mean it’s a democracy, says Melissa Dalton, deputy director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “At the end of the day, it’s the system led by the supreme leader who decides who is going to be the key candidates.
In Iran, an “Orwellian body called the Guardian Council” is tasked with “gauging the qualifications of people who stand for office,” says Hussein Banai, assistant professor of international studies at Indiana University. “The job of the body is to keep out candidates who would want to move in a more liberal, reformist direction.”
This year, more than 1,600 people applied to run for the presidency (women cannot run), but the list was eventually whittled down to six. It’s unclear whether the government will intervene if it feels threatened by the election results, experts say. In 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared president, many pointed to government fraud. Ahmadinejad registered to compete this year, but was disqualified.
2. Who is running?
Iran Election :– At this point, “there are really only two serious candidates,” says Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. Those are incumbent Hassan Rouhani, a moderate conservative, and hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi.
While Rouhani is the most forward leaning in terms of being willing to engage with the West, “he still operates well within the regime,” Dalton says. “He knows how far he can lean forward and where he should.”
Raisi is a conservative cleric who is rumored to be favored by the security establishment and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He was one of four sharia judges behind the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988. He comes out of the “dark heart of the system” and has managed to “galvanize the conservative faction behind him,” Banai says.
3. Who is likely to win?
Rouhani is clearly the popular choice, Banai says. “If you look at the public opinion polls, the votes are not there for conservative hardliners. But you never know what they are going to do.”
While incumbents rarely lose the presidential race in the Islamic Republic, experts say there is a chance the government could intervene on behalf of Raisi, who is seen by the regime as a potential successor to Khamenei. “This might be a way to test drive him, if you will, as more of a public personality,” Dalton says. “He’s been considered an up-and-comer.”