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Elections in Iran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday May 18, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Presidential elections in Iran take place tomorrow - Friday. While there are six candidates running for office, only two of them count.

The two contenders to watch in this election are:

#1: the incumbent, current moderate president of Iran, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani

#2: his arch rival, 56 year old staunch conservative Ebrahim Raisi

Terms like "moderate" and "conservative" are relative and not very helpful when they are attached to Iran, but the terms do, at least, put the two candidates on a continuum.

Rouhani's party is actually called the Moderation Party. Raisi seems to be more in line with the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Grand Ayatollah. To date, the Supreme Leader has not endorsed either candidate.

Iran is not really a democracy. The Grand Ayatollah holds all the power, but he cedes much authority to the president who seems to be elected by a popular vote.

So the real question is whether Rouhani's openness to the West - which is what brought down the sanctions -- is more powerful than the conservative Raisi’s point of view which is to spit in the eye of the West and have Iran do whatever Iran must do.

Has the relief caused by lifting the sanctions been good enough? Or has Iran suffered because of the openness?

History is on Rouhani's side. No incumbent has ever lost an election in modern Iran since 1981. But you never know.

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4 June 2017 12:12 PM in Thoughts

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