Hardliner Candidates Still Split as Iran Election Nears

 June 14, 2013

Split vote likely to result in run-off poll

As Friday’s Iranian presidential election nears, the three hardliner candidates, Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Ghalibaf and Saeed Jalili, have failed to unanimously agree on one candidate, potentially leading to the election ending in a run-off. 

Iran News Update (INU) today reported that the three hardliners are being put under pressure by several prominent clerics within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei’s, to form a coalition in support of one candidate.

 “A coalition of hardliners is a political necessity and the dismissal of it, not repairable,” said Cleric Ahmad Khatami, an influential member of the teachers of the theological seminary in Qom.

In past elections the Khamenei’s choice candidate has been widely known and supported. Khamenei’s candidate in this Friday’s Iranian Presidential Election however, is currently unknown.  All signs point to Saeed Jalili, current Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, as Khamenei’s top choice. 

Although Khamenei has not said in any public speeches or during his closed-door meetings with the commanders of the IRGC his opinion on the candidates, even though others within Khamenei’s circle have spoken in support of Jalili. The head of the Khomeini Institute and leader of the regime’s “resistance front,” Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is supporting Saeed Jalili’s candidacy. Yazdi has called other candidates “self-interest seekers” and “ignorant.”  

This uncertainty regarding Khamenei’s choice candidate is rare and could be an indication of the Supreme Leader’s current state of vulnerability and political weakness within Iran. 

To add to the uncertainty former president of the Iranian Regime Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has gone against Khamenei and endorsed presidential candidate Hassan Rohani.  Rafsanjani warned of the “dangerous state” of the Regime and accused the current leaders of ‘mismanagement and extremism’ that is paving the way for more crippling sanctions by the international community.  

“The current state of the regime is very dangerous and our leaders must understand the demands of the young and return the country to its rightful place, instead of settling the stage for more sanctions by mismanagement and extremism,” said Rafsanjani.  

In Iran’s 2005 presidential election, the Supreme Leader’s candidate was Ahamadi Nejad, who had been close with Khamenei since 2003. Nejad was ultimately elected in 2005 through alleged electoral rigging. Again, in the 2009 election, Khamenei applied his IRGC rigging, ensuring Nejad’s second term. 

Since the 2009 election however, Khamenei has been facing serious trouble within his inner cliques. Divisions within his inner circles have become so prolific that Khamenei, while addressing the heads of the three branches of government recently, harshly warned that “If you make your differences public you will be committing treachery!”