Iran Begins Candidate Registration for Snap Election After President Raisi’s Death

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On Thursday, Iran began registering candidates for a snap election scheduled for next month, following the tragic death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. Raisi had been widely seen as a potential successor to the aging Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s highest authority. His unexpected demise has spurred a competitive scramble among hardliners eager to shape the selection of Iran’s next leader.

Insiders say the conservative camp wants a president who is intensely loyal to Khamenei and shares his ideals. However, a narrow presidential election with restricted choice could dampen interest and keep turnout low, potentially damaging the clerical establishment.

With the ayatollahs still holding the key to supreme power, the next president will have limited control over the nuclear program and foreign policy. However, the new president must domestically tackle a worsening economic crisis and deal with increasing social unrest.

Raisi, who clinched the presidency in 2021 on a relatively high turnout of around 49%, made little progress on his vital economic promises of fighting corruption, creating one million affordable housing units a year, and curbing inflation despite stringent U.S. sanctions and a decline in oil exports. He was also hampered by mismanagement, including his botched attempt in 2022 to reform subsidies for bread and wheat, which prompted mass protests and led to an inflation spike.

With Raisi gone, the most talked-about candidate is Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a hardline parliament speaker and commander of the Revolutionary Guards, who is seen as an heir apparent to Raisi. Other potential candidates include 65-year-old Ali Larijani, a moderate politician who formerly served as parliament speaker and head of the IRGC, and Saeed Jalili, a former Supreme National Security Council chairman and top nuclear negotiator who was an outspoken critic of the 2015 agreement with the West over Iran’s contested nuclear program.

The vetting process will last seven days, with the Guardian Council set to publish the list of qualified candidates on June 11. Official campaigning is to start two weeks later. Raisi’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday, a day before Khamenei is expected to hold his first guidelines on the election. The mourning period ends after that ceremony. In 2021, Khamenei made clear he wanted the next president to be a diehard loyalist who would shape a smooth transition of power when he eventually passed away. He sacked several senior officials and ministers to ensure this. This time, he may take a more hands-on approach. Khamenei will also attend a ceremony in late May marking the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution that established the clerical establishment. However, some observers believe the ayatollah will not intervene to shape the elections. Iran has held only one power transfer between supreme leaders since the 1979 revolution. Raisi’s father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, became supreme leader after his presidential term ended in 1989.

James Williams

James Williams is a bestselling author and historian with a passion for storytelling. He has written numerous books on historical figures and events, including biographies of famous leaders and explorers. James is also a regular contributor to several historical publications and blogs. His ability to bring history to life has earned him critical acclaim and a loyal following of readers. When he's not writing, James enjoys traveling to historical sites and exploring new places.

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