A Shortened Campaign Amidst Tensions and Uncertainty

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A Shortened Campaign After Raisi's Death

Following the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of President Ebrahim Raisi and seven others, Iran's Guardian Council has approved six candidates to run in the country's June 28 presidential election. This marks the start of a shortened, two-week campaign to replace Raisi, who was seen as a potential successor to the 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Guardian Council, a panel of clerics and jurists overseen by Khamenei, has once again excluded women and individuals advocating for radical change from the race. This suggests that the Shiite theocracy aims for a smooth election after recent votes saw record-low turnout and amidst high tensions over Iran's nuclear program and the Israel-Hamas war.

The campaign is expected to feature live, televised debates on Iran's state-run broadcaster, along with billboard advertising and stump speeches. While none of the candidates have offered specifics yet, all have promised to improve the country's economic situation, which has been hampered by sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other Western nations over its nuclear program.

The most prominent candidate is Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, a former Tehran mayor with close ties to the Revolutionary Guard. However, his past involvement in violent crackdowns on Iranian students may be a liability in the current climate of unrest. Other candidates include Saeed Jalili, a former senior nuclear negotiator, and Masoud Pezeshkian, the only reformist candidate in the race.

The Guardian Council's decision to disqualify prominent figures like former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani has further narrowed the field. This election comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the West, with concerns over its support for Russia in the Ukraine war and its arming of proxy forces in the Middle East.

As the campaign unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the candidates will offer concrete solutions to address Iran's economic woes and navigate the complex geopolitical landscape. The outcome of the election will have significant implications for the country's future direction and its relations with the international community.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09