In June, the Iranian people will head to the polls to elect a new president after Hassan Rouhani’s term in office comes to an end. Rouhani’s 2013 election had raised high hopes in Iran, as people believed that his moderate approach would improve the economic and social situation in the country, but since then they have been sorely disappointed with his failure to generate any positive change.
There are several intriguing candidates vying for the position of presidency, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is a well-known figure in the West, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Ghalibaf, and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaee, who is currently the secretary of the regime’s Expediency Discernment Council.
Naturally, the candidates vary considerably with regard to their political, social, and economic agendas and their public support, and each man has a different relationship with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a man who has ruled the country for over three decades. Indeed, the results of the upcoming election are profusely important given the talks Europe is brokering between Iran and the U.S. regarding a return to the nuclear agreement, and the possibility of restructuring Iran’s economy.
While Zarif seems like the optimal choice to take over the presidency, his chances of being elected are low due to the fact that he does not have much public support and his relationship with the Supreme Leader is tense.
Rezaee has affiliations with the Resistance Front of Islamic Iran, a prominent political organization in the country, and was previously the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps between 1980-1997. Prior to his joining the IRGC, he was a member of Mansouroun, an Islamist guerilla group, of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. Rezaee’s life-long service in the different ranks of the IRGC and various other national offices places him in a favorable position to lead these bodies in unison and overcome any existing rivalries, as attested to by the leaked tapes.
This type of demonstrative leadership is sure to increase Rezaee’s popularity amongst Iranian voters. Notably, Rezaee’s increasing popularity is a positive signal to the West, as a more moderate candidate willing to deal with the Europeans and Americans, is certainly a step forward.
It appears as though the upcoming election, which is taking place at a critical intersection for the Iranian regime, has the potential to bring about real change for the Iranian people and country’s status in the international community. All of this depends on whether or not the Iranian people are in favor of constructive change or remain in stagnation under the same hard-line representatives that are keen to keep Iran in its current state.