Jahangiri backs down from Debate

First Vice President and candidate Eshaq Jahangiri said that he would not engage in any candidate debates until after the official candidates list is announced on May 26 or 27. Jahangiri said that this was in accordance with the law which does not allow campaigning before the official list is announced. However, many are interpreting this as him backing down from a previous challenge to debate, a challenge that was enthusiastically taken up by Ezzatollah Zarghami on Friday. A rumour is also circulating that Jahangiri has been tipped off that he will not be among the approved candidates.

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Zarghami vows to take on Iran’s “Mafia”

Conservative candidate Ezzatollah Zarghami has vowed to be an anti-corruption president, telling an interviewer “I will deal with the mafia and those whose interests are in the continuation of the status quo, as well as oligarchic gangs and the “thousand” families”. On the issue of how he will behave in electoral debates, Zarghami added: “I have no red line in the elections except the interests of the country and the people.”

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Candidates launch slogans

Although approved candidates will not be announced until May 27, a number have already started circulating posters and promoting slogans. Ebrahim Raisi has styled his campaign as “a people’s government for a strong Iran”, appealing to his credentials as strong conservative with popular appeal. Ali Larijani has gone on the attack with “Neither the key nor the hammer”, which refers to the legal (key) candidates like Raisi, and military (hammer) candidates like Saeed Mohammad. Eshaq Jahangiri has gone for the more description “government of the nation to open the lives of the people and the development of Iran”, while Saeed Jalili has kept it simple with “real work not rhetoric”. Among the more creative slogans are Ezzatollah Zarghami’s “I am not Rouhani”, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “either I qualify or boycott the election”.

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Zibakalam: Who will Ultimately be the Principalist Candidate

Esteemed political scientist, Prof Sadegh Zibakalam of the University of Tehran, outlined his analysis on the four main Principalist candidates: Ebrahim Raisi, Mohsen Rezaei, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf and Saeed Jalili. Zibakalam argued that Raisi would be a clear favourite as he is the candidate most likely to win at this stage, however it is not clear if he will accept an invitation from the two prominent Princpalist organisations, the Coalition Council and the Unity Council, to run. In Zibakalam’s view, the Principalist choice is between Raisi and Qalibaf at the moment, and other candidates like Saeed Mohammad, Ali Nikzad, Ezzatollah Zarghami and Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh, stand no chance of being supported by the Principalist bloc. For Saeed Mohammad, the problem is that he is too much like a young Ahmadinejad, and the Principalist camp of 2021 is not going to make the same choice as the did in 2005. However, Zibakalam added that if Raisi does not run, Saeed Mohammad would still pose a threat to whomever the Princpalists chose, effectively splitting the conservative vote.

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