After Ahmadinejad: Who will be the next president of Iran?
Last week witnessed the start of campaigning for Iran’s 11th presidential elections under the Islamic Republic. The first round of voting is scheduled for 14 June with a run-off vote, if necessary, on 21 June.
These elections herald the end of President Ahmadinejad’s second term and final mandate. The question of who will succeed is crucial, as tensions mount inside the country between the traditionalists surrounding the country’s spiritual Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the various forces seeking any form of change. At stake is the future of Iran’s failing economy, the desperate need for modernisation and reform and the continuing stand-off with the international community over Iran’s ambitions to be a nuclear power.
Eight candidates have been cleared to stand in the first round polls – four “Principalist” supporters of the conservative status quo, two reformists (in Iranian terms) and two independents. It seems most likely that the election will fall to one of the Principalists, especially if they can agree to coalesce behind a single candidate. At present the front runner appears to be Saeed Jalili who is thought privately to be Khamenei’s first choice.
We do not foresee at this stage the sort of unrest witnessed following the 2009 elections amid allegations of a rigged result. Partly this is due to the absence of an attractive reformist candidate to act as a focus for protestors; partly it is due to the prevailing cynicism and apathy among the electorate that may also lead to a low voter turnout on the day.