Iran is facing elections within only a few days. From among 686 candidates, only 8 were approved by the Guardian Council to run for the post and replace Ahmadinejad. However, many are the influences that reach the candidates, and that can eventually influence the outcome of the elections.
Iran’s electoral field is sinking further down as the only reformist candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref has withdrawn from elections, as he recently informed the public. In the background of his decision is a letter of former Prime Minister Khatami, saying it would not be wise for Aref to stay in the race.
Beside Khatami, others in the reformist camp also called on Aref to withdraw in favour of the moderate Rowhani. Rowhani, the previous nuclear negotiator of Iran, is favoured by Mohammad Khatami and is also popular in the reformist and moderate camp. Rowhani is also seen as a better candidate for the elections, holding a higher chance of success than Aref.
In addition to the withdrawal of Aref, another candidate, the conservative Haddad Adel, also previously withdrew from the elections, but without endorsing any of the remaining candidates, but expressed his hope for a hardliner conservative victory. He hoped his moves will strengthen the position of other conservative candidates.
Rowhani apparently has a higher and more intense backing than Aref, counting not only Khatami, but Rafsanjani as well as his supporters. He won the favour of the moderate and the reformist camp as well. Moreover, Khatami’s advisory council officially supported Rowhani as the “reformist candidate”.
Although Rowhani had succeeded in earning the trust and support of both the reformist and moderate camp, winning the elections is still far away. He still needs to earn the support of some in the conservative camp – and although he is a cleric and was in the governmental establishment since the revolution, he is now considered not a hard-liner anymore, but a reformist politician. There is also a challenge in winning the favour of the public, yet youth seems to favour Jalili over Rowhani.
If it is this way, the major debate would develop between Jalili and Rowhani at the end. Jalili seems to enjoy a major part of the popular support, yet Rowhani probably has a higher amount of supporters within the political establishment, and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also seems to favour him over Jalili. Only the elections will tell whether the Supreme Leader’s will or the people’s choice will come out as a winner.