Welcome to the Reuters.com BETA. Read our Editor's note on how we're helping professionals make smart decisions.
Skip to main content

Middle East

Factbox: Judge, banker, commander, lawmaker contest Iran's presidency

4 minute read
1/3

Presidential candidate Saeed Jalili ​​speaks with journalists before the start of the last election debate, in Tehran, Iran June 12, 2021. Ayoub Ghaderi/YJC/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI, June 15 (Reuters) - Iranians have a choice between four mostly hardline candidates in Friday's president election, a contest likely to reinforce the authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's strongly anti-Western Supreme Leader. read more

Clerical officials who vetted the candidates rejected several prominent moderates and conservatives, initially resulting in a field of five hardliners and two low-key moderates.

On Wednesday, three of the seven dropped out of the race, leaving just five contenders.

President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who orchestrated Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, is legally barred from running for a third four-year term.

In the Islamic Republic's dual system of republican and clerical rule, the president heads the government but reports to the Supreme Leader, the country's top authority.

Following are brief sketches of the candidates:

EBRAHIM RAISI: Iran's hardline judiciary chief lost to Rouhani in 2017 and was placed under sanctions by the United States the following year for alleged human rights abuses.

Describing him as a member of Khamenei's "inner circle", Washington cited Raisi's participation in "a so-called death commission that ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988".

Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions and Raisi has never publicly addressed allegations about his role. Some clerics have said the trials were fair, praising the "eliminating" of armed opposition in the early years of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In 2016, Raisi, then a mid-ranking Shi'ite cleric, was appointed by Khamenei as custodian of Astan Qods Razavi, a multi-billion dollar religious conglomerate that owns mines, textile factories, a pharmaceutical plant and major oil and gas firms.

Raisi is also the deputy head of Iran's Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that supervises, appoints, and in theory can sack the supreme leader.

If he wins the vote, Raisi would boost his chances of eventually succeeding Khamenei, who himself served two terms as president under the late founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Raisi is backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, which wields wide political and economic power. In 2019 the Corps was listed by Washington as a foreign terrorist organisation, a designation Iranian authorities condemned.

ABDOLNASER HEMMATI: A former ambassador to China, Hemmati is a pragmatist technocrat who had served as Iran's Central Bank chief since 2018 for three years. He stepped down from that role last month. read more He formerly served as vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), governor of the Central Insurance of Iran and the chief executive at Bank Melli Iran.

MOHSEN REZAEE : The secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, Rezaee was the top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards who led the elite force during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. A three-time presidential candidate who withdrew from the 2005 race, Rezaee holds a PhD in economics.

In 2007, Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for Rezaee, along with four other Iranians and a Lebanese, over a 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community centre that killed 85 people. Rezaee has not commented on the warrant and Iran has denied any involvement in the bombing.

AMIRHOSSEIN GHAZIZADEH-HASHEMI: A member of parliament since 2008, the hardline politician has promised to boost Iran's battered economy. He holds a PhD in medicine.

Wednesday's announcement that former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and hardline lawmaker Alireza Zakani had dropped out is expected to help consolidate the hardline vote behind Raisi. Moderate Mohsen Mehralizadeh, a former governor of Iran's Isfahan province, also stood aside in a boost for Hemmati.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

More from Reuters