The electoral process in Iran this year is expected to be as controversial as the one in 2009 when mass protests were observed throughout the country and in many other countries of the world against alleged rigging in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
Much has happened in the past few months and a lot has changed in the past few years that can help us to understand what would probably happen (or not happen) in the election which is due on Friday.
Here we have compiled a list of simple facts that have been the main highlights before the elections and will likely have a lasting effect on voters and their choices:
The Guardian Council And The Candidates:
A constitutionally mandated 12-member Guardian Council is in charge of all the major political decisions especially pertaining to the electoral process. It is the legal institution that decides the candidates and rules for elections in the country. This year will be the eleventh election for the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and after various rejections and withdrawals during the screening process; six out of eight original candidates remain in the run for presidency.
The candidates are; Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Mohammad Gharazi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaee, Hassan Rouhani, and Ali Akbar Velayati. Rouhani is the only reformist candidate in the race and is expected to face a lot of opposition. Watch out for him!
Women Contesting For Elections:
Two Iranian women publicly announced their candidacies for presidency in the elections on June 14. One was a 45-year-old housewife Razieh Omidvar and Soraya Malekzadeh who is a trained economist and a university professor. The news was initially being considered as a positive development with people praising the women for breaking the long-time suppressed image of women in Iran. But…
Women Barred From Elections:
A week after the two women had announced their candidacy, The Guardian Council announced its decision that a woman is not allowed to be the president of Iran according to the country’s laws. The news of rejection of the female candidates again sparked a debate over the status of women in the Islamic republic. The announcement from the Council reaffirmed the fact that women in Iran are, if not oppressed, are not allowed to make a significant contribution in the country’s politics. Surely, the voters in the country on Friday would want to go for a candidate who would change that.
Protests Against Khamenei:
On June 4, probably the biggest anti-government demonstrations took place in Iran, just ten days before the presidential elections, marking the rarest political protests in the country in many years. The protests underlined the prevalent discomfort in people for the existing ‘conservative’ regime under Ayatollah Khamenei. This particular event was probably the most important before the elections because it brought to light the sentiments of majority of Iranians who no longer want the clerics to play around with politics. As we mentioned earlier in the article, this happened in 2009 and it remains to be seen if something similar would happen over the weekend.
Clerical Influence And Reformists:
A tough competition between the long-established clerical influence and reformist culture in Iran is being witnessed, especially now when the election is literally round the corner. The Islamic Republic of Iran in its 34-year-old history has mostly been controlled by Shiite clerics and still, many people revere Ayatollah Khamenei as their ‘divine’ ruler. But with the passage of time and the house arrest of two reformist leaders in 2009, a significant population in the country has totally turned against the clerical rulers. Hassan Rouhani is the only moderate reformist candidate in the election race this year and he has a considerable fan-following as well but he faces a tough competition from his conservative rivals such as Saeed Jalili who is the frontrunner this time. It’s a clash of two ideologies, the Iranian Election 2013.
Around 50 million voters are expected to participate in the election on Friday. Though many experts think that the process doesn’t matter because of the clerical monopoly in the country, the Iranians are expecting change and are all set to make their contribution.
Who do you think will win? You can share your answers in the comments section.