Six candidates seek popular mandate to become next president of Iran

The June 28 elections were called following the death of the incumbent president Ebrahim Raisi along with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

June 11, 2024 by Abdul Rahman
Iran's Constitutional Council spokesman Hadi Tahan Nazif. The council decides which candidates are approved to run. Photo: Press TV

Formal campaigning for Iran’s 14th presidential elections began on Monday, June 10, a day after Iran’s Ministry of Interior published the final list of approved candidates. The vote will be held on June 28.

The six approved candidates contesting for Iranian president are: Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Masud Pezeshkian, Saeed Jalili, Mostafa Purmohammadi, Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani and Amir Hossein Qazizadeh.

Qalibaf (62) is the current speaker of the Iranian parliament, the former mayor of Tehran, and a prominent conservative politician in the country. He has been a presidential candidate at least three times in the past. He is considered as the leading contender for the post of the president this time.

Qalibaf and most other conservative candidates are expected to continue the foreign and domestic politics which characterized Ebrahim Raisi’s administration. Qalibaf is considered a close ally to the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Pezeshkian (70) is the oldest candidate approved by the Guardian council. He is a member of the parliament and a former health minister. He is the only prominent reformist politician approved to contest the elections this time.

Jalili (59) has been the chief nuclear negotiator and head of the country’s Supreme National Security Council. He contested in the 2021 presidential elections but withdrew his candidature midway.

Alireza Zakani (58) was approved as candidate during the last presidential elections in 2021 as well. However, he withdrew his candidature too in favor of Ebrahim Raisi.

Purmohammadi (65) has served as minister in Iran’s Interior and Justice departments and was a professor of political science.

Amir Hossein Qazizadeh (53) is the youngest among the candidates. He had been a member of Iranian parliament and currently the head of the foundation related to the welfare of the families of war veterans and martyrs.

According to the Iranian Press TV, 80 people including four women had registered as candidates for the elections. The 12 member Constitutional or the Guardian council rejected most of their names including former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and former speaker of Iranian parliament Ali Larijani. The Guardian council rejected the names of all four women who had registered to contest the elections including the hardliner former woman parliamentarian Zohren Elahian.

The Guardian council, now known as the Constitutional Council is the supervisory body for all elections in Iran. It is a body made of 12 members half of which are jurists and the other half is made of legal experts. The council has never approved a woman candidate for the post of the president based on its interpretation of article 115 of the Iranian constitution which apparently uses the masculine term for the president.

The Iranian presidential election was scheduled to take place next year but was preponed following the death of incumbent Ebrahim Raisi (63) in a helicopter crash on May 19. He along with seven others including Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed due to bad weather conditions.

Iran’s last presidential election was held in 2021 when Raisi was elected with over 60% votes. However, they were marked with low voter turnout (less than 50%) widely considered as the result of disqualification of most of the prominent contenders of Raisi.

The campaign period will go until June 26. If necessary, there will be a run off between the two leading candidates before July 8.