Iran's former President Hassan Rouhani

Hardliners In Iran Bar Ex-President Rouhani From Elections

Wednesday, 01/24/2024

Iranian hardliners controlling the candidate vetting process for the March 1 elections, have rejected the candidacy of former President Hassan Rouhani, local media report.

Rouhani had registered and was eager to run for a seat on the Experts Assembly that will take place along with parliamentary elections in five weeks. The Assembly has the constitutional duty to select Iran’s next Supreme Leader after Ali Khamenei’s death.

Rouhani in November had stressed the importance of the election, considering political uncertainties in the event of Khamenei’s absence.

The interior ministry and the Guardian Council, both in charge of vetting candidates, have rejected hundreds of non-hardliners for the March vote, repeating the same tactic as was employed in the 2020 parliamentary and the 2021 presidential elections. As a result, the outgoing parliament is controlled by ultraconservatives, who also dominate President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration.

Rouhani's rejection by Khamenei loyalists has now pushed all former Iranian presidents into political isolation.

Those rejected are all regime insiders and not opponents, who could never be allowed to run in an election. Many are former high-ranking officials or lawmakers.

Relatively independent media outlets, commentators and many politicians agree that turnout in the elections will be extremely low, as voters have lost trust that any election in the Islamic Republic can improve their deteriorating economic condition or offer more freedoms. The widespread candidate rejections also diminish any chance that government efforts to entice the population to vote can bear any results.

The manipulation of elections take place even though hardliners know a low turnout can further erode the regime’s legitimacy, damaged by economic crisis and repeated nationwide protests.

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