World

Tehran's mayor drops out of Iran's presidential election to back hard-liner

Tehran's mayor drops out of Iran's presidential election to back hard-liner

Es'haq Jahangiri, the Iranian first vice president and a candidate in the country's 12th presidential election, has dropped out of the race to back moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

There are five candidates remaining following Qalibaf's withdrawal, including Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, who supports Rouhani and whose candidacy has been aimed at uniting forces behind him, and fellow reformer Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, a former industry minister.

Ghalibaf encouraged his voters to back Hardliner candidate Ibrahim Raisi in order to ensure the "preservation of the interests of the people, the revolution and the country".

From 1981 to 1989, Mirsalim served as a senior adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, who was president at the time. A Rouhani win would affirm and strengthen the nuclear deal, and it makes continued Iranian compliance more likely.

This election marked Qalibaf's third presidential campaign, having previously lost running to the left of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 and to the right of Rouhani in 2013.

The expert expects that if Jahangiri quits in favor of Rouhani, the elections will be held in one round and President Hassan Rouhani will win.

"The leverage of my power does not possess some things, but some things will be possible with a vote of more than 51 percent", he said during a campaign stop in western Iran. The polls show he is seen as far more capable than his challengers both to improve Iran's foreign relations (55 percent for Rouhani, 22 percent Ghalibaf, and 6 percent Raisi) and to remove global sanctions (48 percent Rouhani, 21 percent Ghalibaf, 7 percent Raisi). Both snubbed Rouhani, who himself is a cleric.




Hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi will gain votes from Qalibaf's endorsement, but it may not be enough to defeat Rouhani.

He reached a deal with world powers in 2015 which lifted most worldwide sanctions in return for curbing Iran's nuclear programme.

"With the deal in jeopardy, the system will be in vital need of Rouhani's team of smiling diplomats and economic technocrats to shift the blame to the United States and keep Iran's economy afloat", said Iran analyst Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group. In 1988, Raisi was involved in a mass execution of political prisoners that is considered one of the most tragic events in the history of the Islamic Republic.

That past has anxious moderates and reformists in Iran.

Having now called on conservative voters to unite behind Raisi, Qalibaf could conceivably upset forecasts that Rouhani was on course for a comfortable victory.

Under Iran's system, the powers of the elected president are circumscribed by those of the conservative supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been in power since 1989.


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