By MaleProstateHealth • July 17, 2017 • Comments Off on Iran presidential elections: everything you need to know
As voters prepare to go to the polls this week, we look at the two frontrunners and examine what is at stake for the country
Iran goes to the polls on 19 May in the countrys first presidential elections since the landmark nuclear agreement in 2015, when Tehran agreed to roll back its nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of sanctions. The fate of that deal has been thrown in doubt since Donald Trump took the helm at the White House, but despite his increasingly belligerent rhetoric, the US president has so far not taken any serious steps to scrap the accord.
Irans interaction with the international community is at stake. The incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, brought Iran in from the cold, even holding direct talks with the US under Trumps predecessor, something that was a taboo for more than three decades. The trajectory of Irans foreign policy changed dramatically under Rouhani, a moderate cleric, but that approach could shift under a new president.
Internally, a Rouhani defeat would deal a blow to the countrys reformists and bring hardliners back in power.
The election comes at a critical time in Iran: in recent years, particularly since 2014 when the countrys supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, underwent prostate surgery, speculation about his potential successor has grown.
Khamenei has the final say in all state matters in Iran, but in the event of his death the president can have a crucial role in the appointment of the next leader, even though it is not up to him to choose one. Khamenei was himself president in the 1980s when Ayatollah Khomeini, the then supreme leader and founder of the 1979 Islamic revolution, died. He was then promoted by the council of experts, the body in charge of choosing Irans supreme leaders, to succeed Khomeini.
Rouhanis main challenger, hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, is believed to have bigger ambitions than just the presidency. Over the past year, he has been touted as a frontrunner to succeed Khamenei. While it is true that Khameneis authority outstretches that of the president as long as he is alive, a new president could significantly change the political landscape at home.
Resolving the stalemate over the countrys nuclear programme was Rouhanis main campaign promise in the 2013 elections and on this metric he has succeeded.
But the elections are also seen as a referendum on how he has performed economically under the terms of the nuclear agreement. Rouhani has stabilised the Iranian economy and brought down inflation but unemployment is high and his opponents have questioned whether his administration has done enough to bring tangible economic benefits.
Raisi has portrayed himself as the candidate of the poor and is running a campaign focused on economic priorities, called work and dignity.
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