While Iran holds regular executive and legislative elections, most powerful institutions including the Supreme Leadership, Guardians Council, and the armed forces are not elected, and the country is consistently described as not-free by international observers. Iran’s 8th president after the revolution will be elected on June 18th while the country is tackling a number of critical issues, among them the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths. Sanctions have negatively affected everyday life with inflation skyrocketing and the economy recording three consecutive years of contraction. Internationally, Tehran is engaged in multilateral negotiations with world powers to revive the nuclear deal which was scrapped by the previous administration in Washington. This experience appears to have disheartened the reformist camp. The June 2021 presidential election will be critical for the future direction of Iran, its domestic politics and foreign relations.
What is the role of elections in Iran? What are their risks and rewards for the regime and the future of democracy in Iran?
- Who are the main players of the next election and what are the likely outcomes?
- How will current critical challenges facing the country affect electoral participation and the final outcome of election?
- What are the consequences of the June election on Iran’s foreign policy?
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John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) and Distinguished Professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU). He is renowned globally for his creative thinking about democracy. John is the founder of the world’s first democracy research institute, the London-based Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and founder and director of the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN). He is described by the Times of London as ‘one of the world’s leading political thinkers and writers’. Among his best-known books are the prize-winning, best-selling Tom Paine: A political life (1995), Violence and Democracy (2004), Democracy and Media Decadence (2013) and a full-scale history of democracy, The Life and Death of Democracy (2009). His most recent book is The New Despotism (2020).
Sanam Vakil is the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa programme, Chatham House (London) where she leads project work on Iran and Gulf Arab dynamics. Sanam’s research focuses on regional security, Gulf geopolitics, and on future trends in Iran’s domestic and foreign policy. She is also the James Anderson professorial lecturer in the Middle East Studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS Europe) in Bologna, Italy. Sanam is the author of Action and Reaction: Women and Politics in Iran (Bloomsbury 2013). She publishes analysis and comments for a variety of media and academic outlets.
Mahmoud Pargoo is Research Fellow at Middle East Forum (MESF) at Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University and a former lecturer at the University of Sydney. He is the lead-author of Presidential Elections in Iran: Islamic Idealism since the Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and the author of Secularization of Islam in Post-revolutionary Iran (Routledge, 2021). He has a PhD in Social and Political Thought from Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University. Mahmoud writes in English, Persian, and Arabic and his analyses have appeared in BBC, ABC, Al-Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Times, and Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
18 May 2021
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