Iran's Guardian Council approves seven candidates for presidential election

Reformist and centrist candidates have been dumped for conservatives and hardliners

Staff members sit under a portrait of the Islamic republic's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, while registering candidates for Iran's presidential elections at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on May 11, 2021. Registration at the interior ministry to contest the poll runs from today to May 15, with names to be handed to the conservative-dominated Guardian Council for vetting before being allowed to run. / AFP / ATTA KENARE

Iran's Guardian Council announced the list of approved candidates for the June 18 presidential elections. The seven in the list, leaked earlier this week by Fars News, are almost all conservative or hardline followers.

Although the Guardian Council can disqualify any candidate, Ayatollah Khamenei can ultimately amend the list. While the list has surprised many, the exclusion of former Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who was seen as a frontrunner and main challenger to Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, was expected.

These are the candidates:

Ebrahim Raisi

Ebrahim Raisi, head of Iran's judiciary leaves a news conference after registering his candidacy for the June 18 presidential elections at the elections headquarters of the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Mr Raisi is a hardline conservative and Iran's Chief justice as well as a potential successor to Ayatollah Khamenei. Mr Raisi ran against current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, getting only 38 per cent of the votes.

Mr Raisi has said he will be running as an independent, focusing his campaign on fighting poverty and corruption.

Without the presence of Mr Larijani, Mr Raisi is expected to easily win the election.

Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi

Mr Hashemi is a hardline candidate and the first deputy speaker of the Iranian Parliament. He has been a vocal critic of the broader region's efforts to normalise relations with Israel, as well as diplomatic relations with the west.

Mohsen Rezaei

Iranian former chief of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezai talks to the media after registering his candidacy for the June presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry in the capital Tehran, on May 15, 2021. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Mr Rezaei is a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is currently Secretary of the Expediency Council. The council is in charge of resolving disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council.

Mr Rezaei has run for president a number of times, starting in 2005, but has been unsuccessful each time.

Mohsen Mehralizadeh

Former Iranian vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh, accompanied by his grandsons, salutes supporters as he registers his candidacy at the Interior Ministry in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2021, for the Islamic Republic's upcoming presidential elections. Registration for the June 18 poll runs till the end of this week, after which names will be handed to the conservative-dominated Guardian Council for vetting. / AFP / ATTA KENARE

Mr Mehralizadeh has also run for president in the past. In 2005, he ran as a reformist candidate. Mr Mehralizadeh was earlier the Governor of Isfahan province, a part of the Khatami government as a vice president, and also the head of the National Sports Organisation of Iran.

Saeed Jalili

Iran's former top nuclear negotiator and former presidential candidate Saeed Jalili talks to the media after registering his candidacy for the June presidential elections, at the Interior Ministry in the capital Tehran, on May 15, 2021. / AFP / ATTA KENARE

Saeed Jalili, Iran's former nuclear negotiator during the presidency of Ahmadinejad is a hardliner and extremely close to Ayatollah Khamenei. He, along with Mr Raisi, is deemed a front-runner. Mr. Jalili is one of the more outspoken hardliner candidates. He is unlikely to foster diplomatic relations with the West, having promised no compromise over Iran's nuclear programme and its involvement in Syria. Mr Jalili would probably further escalate Iran's stand-off with the US.

Alireza Zakani

Iranian conservative presidential candidate, Alireza Zakani, waves after registering his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections at the ministry of interior in the capital Tehran on April 14, 2017. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Mr Zakani is a senior politician from the more conservative faction of the Principlaict camp. He is also the owner of two news websites. Mr Zakani had previously registered to run for president, but had been disqualified by the Guardian Council.

Aboldnasser Hemmati

Abdolnaser Hemmati (C), Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, listens to a speech in parliament in Tehran on October 7, 2018, over the a bill to counter terrorist financing. - The bill, one of four put forward by the government to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), was passed by 143 votes to 120, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Mr Hemmati is currently part of the Rouhani administration. He is the central bank governor and considered a reform-minded technocrat. He has overseen Iran's central bank during a time when the economy has been under immense pressure from sanctions. He has been a supporter of the ongoing nuclear negotiations.

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