Potential candidates emerge for Iran's upcoming presidential election

Potential candidates emerge for Iran's upcoming presidential election
Meeting of Iranian government officials preparing for snap presidential elections following Ebrahim Raisi's death. / CC: President of Iran website.
By bne Tehran bureau May 25, 2024

A list of potential candidates for Iran's early presidential elections has been published in Shafaqna, a news agency close to Iran's government, on May 25.

In the wake of President Ebrahim Raisi's sudden death in a helicopter crash on May 19, several soc-called ‘reformist’ and ‘conservative’ groups in the Islamic Republic have begun to make manoeuvres to be the next potential president.

According to the report, "Preliminary forecasts and assessments of political trends indicate that the following persons are at the head of various political groups, and their candidacy is the most likely."

The potential candidates include for the June 28 vote include:

  • Eshaq Jahangiri, former first vice president of Iran
  • Mohammad Reza Aref, Member of the Political Expediency Council
  • Mohammad Javad Zarif, Former Foreign Minister
  • Masoud Pezeshkian, Member of Parliament
  • Abdolnasser Hemmati, Former head of the Central Bank
  • Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, Secretary General of the Equality and Development Party
  • Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh, Head of the International Federation for Traditional Wrestling
  • Mohsen Hashemi, Son of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
  • Ali Larijani, Former head of parliament
  • Mohammad Mokhber, Acting President
  • Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Current head of parliament
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Former President
  • Saeed Jalili, Representative of the Supreme Leader to the Supreme National Security Council
  • Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, Advisor to the Supreme Leader
  • Alireza Zakani, Mayor of Tehran
  • Parviz Fattah, Head of the Executive Headquarters of the Imam's Decrees

Abbas Johari, the secretary of the electoral headquarters of Tehran province, announced that the final list of candidates will be revealed on June 11. Following this, candidates will have 15 days to campaign.

Doubts remain that several of the above names, including former presidents and vice presidents, will make the final list, which is shrunk down by government to an average of about 8 final candidates. 

During a meeting held late on May 25 hosted by Acting President Mohammad Mokhber and attended by the heads of the legislative and judicial branches, the Deputy Chairman of the Guardian Council, the Interior Minister, and the Vice President for Legal Affairs, rules for the election were announced.

Discussions included candidate registration timelines for the country’s 14th presidential election.

To simplify the election process, the Guardian Council required that eligible candidates (aged 40 to 75, with a master's degree, at least four years of senior management experience, and no criminal record) upload their documents to an online system designed by the Ministry of Interior.

Previously, presidential elections in Iran have banned women from the position, that stance is likely to remain in place for this upcoming vote.

Only those meeting the criteria will proceed to in-person registration.

Helicopter Crash and Subsequent Investigations

President Ebrahim Raisi's death occurred on May 19 in a helicopter crash in East Azerbaijan province. The helicopter was found completely burned out on the morning of May 20. The crash claimed at least eight lives, including Raisi and the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The nation observed a five-day mourning period, with Raisi's funeral held on May 21.

General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, has ordered a commission to investigate the causes of the crash. This commission, led by Major General Ali Abdallahi, will include military and technical experts.

Theories are raging over whether Raisi's death was an accident or that foul play was at hand, with local outlets now suggesting that there could have been ulterior motives at play  One theory posits that the helicopter may have suffered a radar and navigation equipment failure, leading to loss of control and subsequent crash. This scenario, too, could imply external interference.

Despite the conversations over how he died, thousands of people later bid farewell to the late president in the eastern city of Birjand, a city in South Khorasan Province, some 380 kilometres from Mashhad. Raisi was popular in Birjand and represented the city in the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership, a deliberative body in charge of appointing, dismissing and supervising the performance of supreme leader, whose members are elected by direct public vote. Raisi was later buried in Mashhad in a shrine where he previously worked.