The race to become Iran’s next president began Tuesday, as hopeful candidates started the registration process for the June 14 election. Most analysts expect the list of approved candidates to be heavily stacked with loyalists to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s ruling clerics are concerned about the upcoming election. The last election in 2009 sparked massive riots known as the “Green Revolution” after many felt reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was cheated out of victory in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since then, there have been widespread crackdowns on liberal and reformist candidates.
But this time, Ahmadinejad is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. Ahmadinejad has endorsed his top aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his choice to succeed him. In recent years, Ahmadinejad and his allies have clashed with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the direction of the country.
The presumed front-runners for the upcoming election are senior Khamenei adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, and former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, who is seen as a relative moderate.
Rowhani has said he wants “constructive interaction with the world” and to address charges that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon, NPR reported.
The formal list of approved candidates by Iran’s Guardian Council will be unveiled later this month.