05/27/2021, 11.19
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Rouhani calls for greater 'competitiion' in elections, but the outcome is a foregone conclusion

The Guardian Council has rejected the candidacy of the conservative Larijani and former president Ahmadinejad. The victory of the ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi, close to the state apparatus and the supreme leader Khamenei, is taken for granted. The outgoing president recalls that "the heart of the elections is competition".

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hassan Rouhani calls for greater "competition" in view of the presidential elections on 18 June, following the decision of the Guardian Council to admit almost exclusively personalities from the ultra-conservative faction.

The outgoing leader addresses the highest office of the state, the great ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asking him to intervene because “the heart of the elections is competition. If you eliminate the latter - added Rouhani - [the vote] becomes a corpse ".

The Council of Guardians of the Constitution has admitted seven candidates (out of 600) to the electoral round, five of which can be traced back to the ultra-conservative faction close to the supreme leader. The favourite is the former head of justice Ebrahim Raisi, also and above all following the failure to admit his main challenger, the conservative - but with less radical positions and closer to Rouhani - and former president of Parliament Ali Larijani. The latter would have already accepted the decision, writing on twitter "I am happy with God's will".

In addition to the conservative Larijani, the reformist (among the few remaining authoritative figures) Eshaq Jahanguiri and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were also not allowed to take part in the vote, targeted by the religious leadership but with popular support especially in the countryside.

Analysts and experts believe a Raisi victory is now certain, considered a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed (a "sayyed"), one of the most likely successors of Khamenei at his death and an integral part of the "system, of the deep state that regulates the life of the country.”

In the past, as head of justice, he did not hesitate to use force and issue hundreds of death sentences to ensure the maintenance of order and suppress dissent or internal riots.

The president, speaking at a government meeting broadcast on television, also warned of the high risk of abstention if there is no real competition among authoritative candidates, for a vote that jeopardizes the very "legitimacy" of the system.

Rouhani, a moderate in favour of dialogue with the West as confirmed by the nuclear agreement of 2015 later disavowed by Trump and now the subject of new negotiations with Biden, has twice won the elections thanks to the alliance between moderate and reformist forces which, today, is reduced to a minimum in Parliament.

The 18 June elections come in a climate of general and widespread discontent due to the social and economic crisis, a consequence of the violent repression (with victims and arrests) of the popular protests of winter 2017-18 and November 2019 as well as the health emergency triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Iran is one of the nations most affected by the virus in the whole Middle East.

For many, this vote will be the "end of reformism", while newspapers close to the ultraconservatives defend the Council's choice and blame Rouhani in the case of high abstention, because "he was unable to manage the economy", fuelling "popular discontent ". In reality, abstentionism is gaining in popularity because the population does not see any change in the government of the ayatollahs and pasdaran.

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