High Expectations of the Moderate Cleric's Victory in Iran

14-06-2013

Centrist cleric Hassan Rowhani wins Iran's presidential election in a surprise landslide victory, securing 52 % of the votes. The Iranian presidential election took place at a time of unprecedented economic isolation. Rowhani's victory is due to an unprecedented upsurge of mobilisation a mere three days before the vote. President Rowhani will have little leeway in foreign policy matters, these powers belonging to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Whether Rowhani will be willing to challenge the primacy of the clerical establishment remains to be seen. Voter turnout rose to 72 %. Out of the 51 million registered voters, 37.5 million came to the ballot box, with young voters accounting for one third. Haunted by the 2009 chaos, this election's voter turnout was instrumental in consolidating the foundations of the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamenei played an instrumental role in the election, exercising great influence over the Guardian Council's vetting process. The Guardian Council disqualified reformist movement candidates. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s heir, was also barred from running. The disqualification of Rafsanjani and Mashaei was a strong indicator of the clerical establishment’s intent to micromanage the election. Recurrent allegations of rigged elections and fraud were further exacerbated by Khamenei’s attempt to engineer the election. While the massive participation by Iranians and the choice of president are a reflection of a participatory electoral process, it is primarily a victory for the Supreme Leader. Khamenei successfully used the elections to legitimise the foundations of the Islamic Republic and redeem the situation after the massive protests of 2009. The electoral outcome will have little impact on Iran’s regional policies, particularly as regards Syria, or on the nuclear issue. The election will, on the other hand, determine the fate of Iranians over the next four years. For Iranians, the election represented an opportunity

Centrist cleric Hassan Rowhani wins Iran's presidential election in a surprise landslide victory, securing 52 % of the votes. The Iranian presidential election took place at a time of unprecedented economic isolation. Rowhani's victory is due to an unprecedented upsurge of mobilisation a mere three days before the vote. President Rowhani will have little leeway in foreign policy matters, these powers belonging to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Whether Rowhani will be willing to challenge the primacy of the clerical establishment remains to be seen. Voter turnout rose to 72 %. Out of the 51 million registered voters, 37.5 million came to the ballot box, with young voters accounting for one third. Haunted by the 2009 chaos, this election's voter turnout was instrumental in consolidating the foundations of the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamenei played an instrumental role in the election, exercising great influence over the Guardian Council's vetting process. The Guardian Council disqualified reformist movement candidates. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s heir, was also barred from running. The disqualification of Rafsanjani and Mashaei was a strong indicator of the clerical establishment’s intent to micromanage the election. Recurrent allegations of rigged elections and fraud were further exacerbated by Khamenei’s attempt to engineer the election. While the massive participation by Iranians and the choice of president are a reflection of a participatory electoral process, it is primarily a victory for the Supreme Leader. Khamenei successfully used the elections to legitimise the foundations of the Islamic Republic and redeem the situation after the massive protests of 2009. The electoral outcome will have little impact on Iran’s regional policies, particularly as regards Syria, or on the nuclear issue. The election will, on the other hand, determine the fate of Iranians over the next four years. For Iranians, the election represented an opportunity