Ghalibaf showing his national ID card during registration on Monday, June 3, 2024

Parliament Speaker Announces Candidacy for Iran's Presidency

Monday, 06/03/2024

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the newly re-elected conservative speaker of parliament, has entered the race for the presidency of Iran, registering as a candidate for the June 28 snap elections.

The announcement came days after Ghalibaf, a veteran politician and former IRGC general, was re-elected as Speaker of Iran’s parliament, overcoming opposition from ultra-hardliners who had previously criticized his leadership and were vying for his position.

Ghalibaf is said to be close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and enjoys his confidence. They are both originally from the religious city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran.

Some analysts believe that he has a good chance to receive the backing of Khamenei this time, as he was persuaded to pull out of previous presidential campaigns in favor of other candidates. The most obvious case occurred in 2017, when he conceded in favor of Ebrahim Raisi, who lost the election to Hassan Rouhani.

The re-election as Speaker, which Ghalibaf won with 198 out of 290 votes, followed closely on the heels of President Ebrahim Raisi's sudden death in a helicopter crash. This event has shaken the upper ranks of Iran's clerical government, setting the stage for an election period.

Ghalibaf, like other candidates, must first pass the vetting process by the Guardian Council, which usually rejects most individuals who register.

So far more than 40 former officials and politicians have registered as candidates. The conservative, 12-member Guardian Council will have one week to vet the candidates and officially approve a limited number of these individuals.

The Council, which is under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s control, has rejected hundreds of candidates in parliamentary and presidential elections over the years and specially since 2020. This policy has directly contributed to the dominance of conservatives and hardliners both in the parliament and in the government.

Ghalibaf, 63, has a long and varied career in Iranian politics and military service. He served as the Mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017 and has previously held the positions of Iran's Chief of Police and commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Air Force. Despite previous presidential bids in 2005, 2013, and a withdrawal in 2017 to support Raisi, Ghalibaf's new candidacy signifies his continued ambitions in Iranian politics.

Responding to questions during his registration on Monday about his new presidential campaign and current role as parliament speaker, Ghalibaf simply smiled.

Ghalibaf had had several scandals related to financial corruption among his immediate aides, while he was mayor of Tehran. Some of his aides, who were also former IRGC officers were tried and convicted in cases involving around $5 billion. The sandals surfaced when Ghalibaf’s tenure as mayor ended and ‘reformists’ took over city hall in 2017.

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