Iran conservatives bet on Raeisi after Qalibaf's exit from presidential race

Lucy Bush
May 16, 2017

Ghalibaf took just over 6m votes in the 2013 presidential election, which was won in the first round by Rouhani with 18.6m votes and 50.71% of the vote share.

"I think a low turnout of the voters will be devastating for President Rouhani since moderate candidates usually have larger chances of winning when the turnout is above 65 percent", the economist Said Lailaz said. "We can not take the renewal of his mandate for granted".

Rouhani, a pragmatist who has eased Iran's worldwide isolation and now faces mostly hardline conservative challengers for the presidency, told supporters he needed a stronger mandate to liberalise Iranian society and get opposition leaders freed.

According to Tasnim dispatches, Qalibaf and Raisi held a meeting on Monday, during which both announced readiness to quit the presidential race in favor of the other.

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It is a smart campaign strategy for Rouhani to dangle further talks with the United States with the aim of lifting more sanctions in front of the Iranian public.

The spiritual leader of Iran's reformists said inflation had surpassed 40 percent in 2013, but later dropped to 9.5 percent during Rouhani's rule.

Raisi's popularity has risen steadily in recent weeks and Qalibaf's move should give him a last-minute boost against Rouhani, who has eased Iran's global isolation though failed to spur a sluggish economy. He called a vote for Raisi a "crucial decision" to "preserve the unity" of the revolution. It took "20 years to coalesce around a single candidate, but one that lacks executive experience, a clear program and charisma", he said.

His close association with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would attract the support of conservatives across Iran.

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Raisi is a former prosecutor and current custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, the foundation managing the affairs of Imam Reza's shrine, which has an annual revenue of $210 billion.

Raisi's human rights record has troubled many. Qalibaf's exit only reinforces that view, Maloney said. Rouhani, 68, is also a Shiite cleric.

Raisi still faces "an uphill battle" as Rouhani will also benefit from Qalibaf's exit, Vaez said, noting the "paradox" that Iran's so-called Principlist or conservative camp is now rallying around Raisi. Despite his other failures, Mr. Rouhani's success in reaching the nuclear deal - favoured by the vast majority of Iranians - has put him in a solid position. "They must remain committed to the nuclear deal", he added.

That's exactly the kind of voter Rouhani needs to inspire.

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This is because Raisi is one of the four Sharia judges who oversaw the executions of tens of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, and many have attacked Rouhani saying he "has been directly involved in all of Iran regime's crimes" and "has overseen the arrest, torture, and executions of hundreds of people over his four-year presidency". Mostafa Mirsalim is a conservative and former culture minister.

Other reports by Info About Network

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