How will Iran's presidential election impact the US?

Gladys Abbott
May 19, 2017

Supporters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani wave flags during a campaign rally in Tehran on May 9.

Conservative candidate and current Mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has withdrawn from the presidential race just days ahead of election day. The average Iranian has yet to see benefits from the deal, making Rouhani vulnerable in his bid for another four-year term.

The CISSM survey showed that at the end of 2016, a majority of Iranians supported the nuclear deal, championed by Rouhani - though that number had declined since August 2015, from 76 percent to 55 percent.

With regard to the existing situation in the country, the council suggested that the vice president should make another responsible decision and quit the presidential race in order to back the candidate supported by the reformists through consensus.

Iran's president broadly manages domestic affairs while the actual head of state is the Supreme Leader, now Ayatollah Khomeini, who has constitutional authority over everything in the country, including the armed forces, foreign policy, and the judiciary. Hard-liners in the USA benefit when Iranian hard-liners are ascendant, and that is bad for both of our countries. Yet many voters' expectations of radical change are low. For someone who served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, Rouhani was well aware of what he was saying: Any negotiations concerning the broad list of U.S. sanctions on Iran, whether in regard to Iran's missiles program or human rights, will need Khamenei's permission to proceed. Raisi, according to various sources, has 21%-27%, probably Fars added the votes for Ghalibaf, who withdrew candidacy in favor of Raisi.

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"Not all of Qalibaf's supporters will move to Raisi, but he does provide some capacity for conservatives to unite", said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Most of the 30,000 political prisoners hanged in 1988 by Ebrahim Raisi were supporters of the PMOI. Those disqualified from standing even included former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who although considered a fanatical tyrant by the West, was also clearly thought to be too soft to face the new robust approach from the USA administration. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 77 and in failing health.

It's simple. Raisi is the true face of the Islamic Republic, while Rouhani is a façade.

Some observers note the majority of Iranians tend to pick the "anti-establishment" candidate in the line-up of regime-approved contenders.

Addressing the Iranian people, he said, "We hope that on the day of the election (May 19), we would decide our fate for the coming years and decades".

"Raisi has a good chance to win".

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