Iran ensures no change with West in presidential election
“Disqualifying Rafsanjani further signals the regime’s unwillingness to reach a compromise with the West in the nuclear issue, and resistance to domestic demands for political and economic liberalization,” said Ali Alfoneh, an independent Iran analyst. “The Islamic republic seems reduced to a garrison state preparing itself for suppression of the domestic opposition and resisting pressure from the outside world in the nuclear issue.”
Besides Mr. Jalili and Mr. Qalibaf, the other candidates are former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati; Hassan Rowhani, a former chief negotiator in nuclear talks with the European Union; Gholamali Haddad-Adel, whose daughter is married to Ayatollah Khamenei’s son; Stanford University-educated reformist Mohammad Reza Aref; Mohsen Rezai, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; and Mohammad Gharazi, a little-known former petroleum minister.
Iran’s conservative establishment sought to discredit Mr. Rafsanjani from the moment he announced his candidacy. It targeted his vast wealth, his advanced age (78) and his support for the protests that followed 2009’s disputed presidential election.
The establishment also has sidelined reformist opposition leaders. Former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have been under house arrest for the past two years.
The question now on some analysts’ minds is whether Mr. Ahmadinejad will take a parting shot at the establishment before he leaves office.
“A lot of the suspense has been taken out of this election,” Barbara Slavin, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, said at the Wilson Center. “The only remaining question, to me, is what will Ahmadinejad do? Will he or Mashaei or others in their circle release the dossiers [on corruption] against the elite that they have been threatening to release for months, even years, now?”
The presence of Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Mashaei on the ballot would have helped turn out the youth vote. Their absence means there is likely to be an anemic voter turnout in a country in which roughly two-thirds of the population is below the age of 30.
This would be an embarrassment for Ayatollah Khamenei, who sees high voter turnouts as a validation of the Islamic republic.
Iran is widely believed to have exaggerated voter turnout during parliamentary elections in 2012.
“There was a joke doing the rounds in Tehran at the time that 80 percent of the people were sitting home watching 70 percent vote on television,” Ms. Slavin said. “You will see the same phenomenon in the presidential election.”
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