Difficult Path Ahead of Principlists’ Presidential Bid
Principlists are facing a tough challenge for the May 19 presidential vote as they have failed to agree to a candidate due to the lack of cohesion in the camp, secretary-general of Iran Zamin Islamic Party said.
“A difficult path lies ahead of the principlists in reaching consensus over a candidate to represent them in the election and currently the situation of the camp is unclear,” Abolqasem Raoufian said in an interview with IRNA on Monday.
He looked forward to a neck-and-neck race between the prospective hopefuls of the two major rival political camps, namely principlist and reformist, which would serve the national interests by attracting more voters to the ballot box.
“A dynamic election and meaningful and large voter turnout is contingent on close competition between the contenders,” he said.
Raoufian questioned the performance of the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, which was founded in late December by 10 figures from across the conservative camp to bring principlist groups closer and help build a consensus over the camp’s candidate for the presidential contest.
“The front is a new phenomenon in whose creation no political groups and factions have had a role. It begs the question why individuals, rather than factions, have been assigned to determine the camp’s electoral strategy,” he said.
Unanimity Among Reformists
Raoufian said reformists have made up their mind and are virtually unanimous in fielding the moderate incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani.
“Most reformists have agreed to Rouhani’s candidacy, although I think more nominees will run on behalf of the reformists who might withdraw in Rouhani’s favor later on,” he said.
Rouhani won the 2013 polls in the first round after the reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref withdrew in his favor.
His moderate supporters had forged an alliance with the reformist camp in last February’s twin polls for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, an influential clerical institution tasked with appointing and dismissing the Leader of Islamic Revolution and monitoring his work.
Rouhani is highly likely to win reelection as history shows that all his predecessors who finished their first term went on to serve for a second and last term.
Candidates for the presidential race will sign up between April 11 and 15.
Those deemed qualified by the Guardians Council, an election watchdog body of clerics and jurists, which vets candidates for all elections except the city councils, will have 20 days to campaign from April 28 to May 17.