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Iran: Who are the 6 men running for president?

Shabnam von Hein
June 10, 2024

Iran's Guardian Council names six candidates for the 2024 presidential election to replace Ebrahim Raisi. The list includes hard-liners and a moderate. DW gives you an overview of the candidates.

A photo combining portraits of Iran's six presidential candidates
Iran's presidential candidates, from top left to bottom right: Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Masoud Pezeshkian, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Alireza ZakaniImage: Shafaqna

Iran's Interior Ministry has released the final list of candidates for the presidential election scheduled for June 28. The Guardian Council — the powerful, constitutionally mandated body made up out of six clerics and six jurists — has vetted six men to run after scrutinizing both their professional qualifications and their ideological devotion to the Islamic Republic.

The council has excluded many familiar faces from the election, such as the former president and populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative seen as an ally to ex-President Hassan Rouhani.

Nearly all of the candidates to replace Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on May 19, are considered hard-liners.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi laid to rest

Who are the candidates?

Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf has long hoped to become president. The 62-year-old ran in 2005 and 2013 without success and gave up the 2017 race in favor of the ultraconservative Raisi.

Bagher Ghalibaf
Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf was a senior officer in the Revolutionary GuardsImage: Vahid Salemi/dpa/AP/picture alliance

Qalibaf is a self-proclaimed "Soldier of the Islamic Revolution" who has served as the general of the Revolutionary Guards and the national police chief. In 2003, Qalibaf oversaw a violent crackdown against student protesters. Between 2005 and 2017, he was the mayor of Iran's capital, Tehran.

Saeed Jalili

The 58-year-old Saeed Jalili is seen as the darling of the ultraconservative camp within the Iranian regime. Jalili was Iran's top negotiator in international talks on the country's nuclear program. The hard-liner is currently part of the Expediency Discernment Council, which is appointed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to dissolve conflicts between the Parliament and the Guardian Council.

Saeed Jalili waves to the media after arriving to a registration hall in Tehran
Saeed Jalili is a diplomat and a veteran of the Iraq-Iran warImage: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Similar to Qalibaf, Jalili also ran for president in 2013 and gave up his 2017 candidacy in favor of Raisi.

Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi

A medical doctor by profession, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi is also considered a staunch backer of the regime. Hashemi served as Raisi's vice president and is currently the head of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veteran Affairs.

Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi touching his face with his index finger
Hashemi served as lawmaker until March 2024Image: TASNIM

He was allowed to run for president in 2021. He secured some 3% of the votes, placing him fourth out of seven candidates.

Masoud Pezeshkian

Former Health Minister Masoud Pezeshkian is believed to be more moderate than his rivals in the presidential race. The 69-year-old tried to run for president in 2021 but was disqualified by the Guardian Council.

Pezeshkian holds up his identification papers while standing in front of a large image of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Masoud Pezeshkian is the only moderate running for the presidentImage: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Allowing Pezeshkian to be on the ballot in 2024 could be seen as the regime's strategy to boost turnout by mobilizing more liberal voters. His chances of winning the office, however, remain slim.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi

Pourmohammadi is the only Islamic cleric running for president this year. The 64-year-old served as the interior minister under Ahmadinejad between 2005 and 2008 and as justice minister between 2013 and 2017.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi
Pourmohammadi is a veteran politican and former prosecutorImage: Mehr

In the 1980s, he served as a prosecutor in revolutionary courts and later as deputy intelligence minister, allegedly linking him to mass executions of political prisoners.

Alireza Zakani

Zakani, 58, is yet another hard-liner and the incumbent mayor of Tehran. The Guardian Council rejected his presidential candidacy in 2013 and 2017. In 2021, he was allowed to run but gave up his candidacy in favor of Raisi.

Alireza Zakani shows his inked fingertip to reporters
Alireza Zakani is the current mayor of TehranImage: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/picture alliance

No women in sight

Women are not allowed to run for president in Iran. According to Interior Ministry data, 287 people have officially declared their desire to run for president, and 80 were registered as potential candidates in this electoral cycle. The 80 presidential hopefuls included four women, but the Guardian Council filtered them out.

What's behind Iran's 'woman, life, freedom' protests?

What other factors are at play?

With Ayatollah Khamenei and senior clerics still wielding supreme power in Iran, the candidates are dependent on the patronage of influential circles within the regime's leadership. The late Ebrahim Raisi was the son-in-law of powerful hard-liner Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, the representative of Khamenei in the Khorasan Razavi province. Al-Hoda is also a preacher in the city of Mashhad, the most important religious pilgrimage site in Iran's northeast, and a member of the Assembly of Experts, which appoints the supreme leader.

Friends at the top of the regime can garner the support of conservative and religious voters. In the past, candidates calling for change were only successful if they mobilized other segments of Iranian society and secured a high turnout. Many voters have been disappointed by unfulfilled promises in recent years, however, and the turnout has been low.

Only 41% of voters went to the polls in the March parliamentary election, and the 2021 presidential vote only had a turnout of 48.8%, the lowest of any presidential election in the history of the Islamic Republic.

This article was originally written in German and translated by Darko Janjevic.

Edited by: Keith Walker

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