Iran Election Guide

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Iran Today: The Presidential Campaign Formally Opens

Economy Watch: Private Parliament-Government Meeting on Inflation

Tabnak reports that MPs and Government officials have had a private meeting today, discussing how to control the price of some necessary goods.

Rafsanjani Watch: Pro-Ahmadinejad MP Blasts Former President

MP Ruhollah Hosseinian, a long-time supporter of President Ahmadinejad, announced that up to 90 legislators have written to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, asked him to explain a speech last week which criticised the Government and put forward a number of foreign policy statements.

In the address to clerics, scholars, and students, Rafsanjani, "We are not in war with Israel." He also indicated that he might be ready to run in June's Presidential election.

Hussainian said he is trying to get more MPs to sign the letter. He asserted, "If Rafsanjani wants to participate in the election, he should explain these statements first."

Election Watch: 2+1 Coalition Edition

Ali Akbar Velayati, the current senior advisor on international affairs to the Supreme Leader, has said that the 2+1 coalition will select one person to become a candidate. The selection, according to Velayati, will depend on the polls and the Cleric Society (Jame-e Rohaniat)and Teacher's Society (Jame-e Modaresin).

Foreign Affairs Watch (Syria Edition).

Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has downplayed the chances of Iran responding to Israel’s airstrikes inside Syria, declaring that Syria’s Arab neighbours "must stand by their brethren in Damascus" and respond.

Salehi added that Iran was “prepared for the worst” but believed that Israel “would not dare strike” his country’s nuclear sites.

Election Watch: Social Media Watch.

Presidential hopeful Hassan Rouhani's campaign team opened a Twitter account, @hassanrouhani, on Tuesday.

Election Watch: Q&A for Presidential Hopefuls.

As part of its election coverage, PressTV has reported the comments of a number of presidential hopefuls at a Q&A session yesterday, including Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Hassan Rohani.

While Qalibaf chose to stress the need for Iran to invest in science to create wealth and power, Rohani’s comments referred to the disputed 2009 election, stating that:

One of the main duties of the incumbent administration is to create a healthy and proper atmosphere for people to vote. In order to create such conditions, all the officials should encourage people from all walks of life to take part in a free and competitive election because if people feel that voting for any candidate will not make any difference, this will become problematic.

Mohammad Reza Bahonar, a member of the “coalition of 5,” took aim at the Ahmadinejad government’s handling of the economy, declaring that if 30% of the country’s unemployment and inflation was due to the Western sanctions, the remaining 70% was the result of chronic mismanagement.

Election Watch -- Rafsanjani Edition

Ali Younesi, Minister of Intelligence in the Khatami Government, has said that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani will not stand for election, an EA correspondent reports.

Younesi said he spoke by phone with Rafsanjani last evening. The former Minister said that he was "sure" that Rafsanjani 's decision was final; however, if the former President changed his mind, Hassan Rohani --- who declared formally this morning --- would withdraw from the race.

Election Watch: Recent Polls.

Conservative MP Hassan Ghafouri Fard has declared that Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and the Supreme Leader’s adviser Ali-Akbar Velayati – who make up two-thirds of the principlist “2+1 committee” – are leading in most recent polls.

However, Ghafouri Fard reluctantly admitted that in polls for candidates who have not yet declared their candidacy, former presidents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami come out on top.

Election Watch: Candidates Register Update.

State broadcaster, ISNA, reports that Mostafa Kavakebian, leader of the Mardomsalari (Democracy) Party, and Khosro Nasirzadeh of the General Assembly of Experts are the latest candidates to register for the presidential election.

A self-proclaimed reformist, Kavakebian, supported opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009 election, although not all reformists recognize him as such.

Election Watch -- Revolutionary Guards Edition

The head of the Revolutionary Guards' public relations office, General Ramazan Sharif, has said that the IRGC would continue to carry out its "solemn legal duties", regardless of "enemy noise and tricks", particularly during the upcoming presidential elections.

The enemy was interfering in Iran's internal affairs, but this would not deter the IRGC from following the commands of Imam Khomeini and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Sharif said.

Sharif said that some media and opposition figures had "resorted to lies" because they were influenced by the West and Zionists. He added that the IRGC would not be supporting any particular candidate in the elections.

Election Watch: Candidates Register

Tabnak, the news website close to former Revolutionary Guards commander and presidential hopeful Mohsen Rezaei, is running live coverage of registrations for candidates at the Interior Ministry.

Tabnak reports that at 08:29 Tehran time, former vice president for scientific affairs, Sadeq Vaez Zadeh --- who was invited to run in April --- registered his name. Former Health Minister Kamran Bagheri Lankarani registered at 09:27 Tehran time, with former Housing Minister Mohammad Saeedi Kia turning up next at 09:44. Hassan Rouhani, of the Supreme National Security Council, turned up at 10:30 Tehran time, according to Tabnak.

Election Watch: Formal Declarations Open for Presidential Campaigns

After months of manoeuvring, Iran's Presidential campaign formally opens today, with hopefuls putting in their names for consideration by the 12-member Guardian Council.

More than 20 men have declared their intention to stand, but the number is likely to be sharply reduced by the Council, which will rule on the suitability of candidates based on their qualifications and standing under Islam.

The submission period lasts under Saturday, with the Council then taking 10 days to make its ruling.

Despite months of attempts, the Supreme Leader-backed "2+1 Committee" has not put forth a "unity" candidate. That has left the door open for high-profile principlists --- including two Deputy Speakers of Parliament and a former Foreign Minister --- to press their claims. It has also kept the heat on the ongoing feud between the camp of President Ahmadinejad, who is promoting his right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, and other political factions.

Perhaps most significantly, the uncertainty has fuelled the possibility of a campaign by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

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