Elections in Iran always prompt the media and the country’s politicians to make speculations over whether “hardliners” or “moderates” will take control as if the ordinary Iranians have any real say in such matters.
Anti-regime elements in the country don’t need to apply. At the end of it all, Presidents in Iran have barely any ability to enact their own policies. It is the Supreme Leader himself Ayatollah Ali Khameini who controls the tone and the direction the country takes in domestic and foreign matters. While he hasn’t always been deaf to demands from the public for reform, it is evident that he favors a policy based on increasing repression and confronting the United States in various capacities and his vision has always prevailed.
This year, 592 Iranians registered in order to run as president in the forthcoming elections but when the polls open soon this week, there will be a mere seven hand-selected and pre-screened pro-regime candidates on the papers. This excludes reformists or moderates of any important national stature. No matter who wins, they will still make sure Iran will continue to sponsor state terrorism, nuclear programs along domestic repression.
This year, the regime has moved further by working to ensure total victory for the candidate who is the preferred candidate of the Ayatollah, Ebrahim Raisi. He is being supported because he has constantly been deemed the successor to Ayatollah Khameini and must preserve the current regime and get the tools for a successful change of power. The regime is leaving nothing to chance, especially after Raisi’s initial bid in 2017 ended in a crushing defeat after he failed to garner even 40% of the total votes.
The Guardian Council, a top body aligned with the regime that has the power to include or exclude candidates for office even disqualified top insiders in the regime like Ali Larijani from contesting. In previous years, Larijani’s resume of more than 10 years in public as an advisor to the Khameini and the as the Speaker of parliament has made him a strong candidate. But he’s not the future Supreme Leader of the country and everything is being planned carefully.
The Joe Biden administration along with its allies in Europe should begin preparation to defend against strong, well-entrenched Khameini-Esque hardliners who are itching to undermine any kind of agreement that will restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).