Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani has registered to run in May’s upcoming presidential election (BBC). “Once again, I am here for Iran, for Islam, for freedom and for more stability in this country,” Rouhani told reporters while registering his candidacy.
Other candidates registered this week, including Rouhani’s vice president (Financial Times). Eshaq Jahangiri may have registered to run because there are concerns amongst reformists and pragmatists that Rouhani would've been barred from running by the Guardian Council. Similarly, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf also registered to run for his third consecutive election (Al-Monitor). While Iranian conservatives claim to have unified, Ebrahim Raisi’s supporters believe Ghalibaf is maneuvering to sideline him.
On April 20, the Guardian Council approved six presidential candidates to run, including incumbent President Rouhani (The Guardian). The others included hardline cleric Raisi, Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf, Rouhani’s Vice President Jahangiri, and low-profile politicians Mostafa Hashemi-Taba and Mostafa Agha Mirsalim. Hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Vice President Hamid Baghaei were both disqualified, in addition to 1,600 candidates that included 137 women.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman says former President Ahmadinejad and his vice president still have open legal cases (Al-Monitor). Spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei didn’t mention the nature of the case or the charges. This may also be one of the reasons Ahmadinejad and Baghaei were disqualified.
According to Iran's Interior Ministry, there will be no live debates (AFP). Live debates were made popular during the 2009 and 2013 presidential elections.
A poll conducted inside Iran shows Rouhani could lose the vote despite his popularity (Bloomberg). While the majority of Iranians shared a favorable view of the president, they said the economy and living standards had not improved under the nuclear deal. More than 40 percent said Rouhani was “somewhat likely” to lose this May’s election, while 14 percent said his defeat was “very likely.”
Interestingly, Raisi attacked Iranian state media for excessively covering President Rouhani’s speeches (Al-Monitor).
Meanwhile, the head of the Guardian Council has called for Iran’s religious minorities to be barred from running in city council elections on May 19 (RFERL). In a letter, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said religious minorities should not be allowed to run in Muslim-majority cities, claiming it violates Islamic law and goes against comments made by the founder of the Islamic Republic. Iran’s constitution recognizes Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians as minorities. Iran's Interior Ministry said in late March that 287,425 candidates had registered for the city council elections.
Iran's judiciary has clashed with members of the Rouhani administration over the recent arrests of journalists and Telegram administrators (IranWire).
Presidential election breakdown:
April 20: Interior Ministry announced approved candidates
April 28–May 17: Campaigning
May 19: Election
May 26: Second round of election if no candidate secures a majority