Conservative Lawmaker: Presidential Poll a Two-Way Race

Conservative Lawmaker: Presidential Poll a Two-Way Race

While dozens of high-profile figures have signed up for the May presidential votes, it seems the main rivalry will be a two-sided contest between the incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, and a key member of the conservative camp in a closely-fought race.
Speaking on latest developments regarding electoral competitions, Mohsen Kouhkan, a conservative parliamentarian, said on Friday the heated contest will finally be between Rouhani and the leading candidate of the principlist coalition called the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, namely Ebrahim Raeisi, ICANA reported.
"Eventually, there will remain only one preferred candidate representing the coalition and everybody else will be out of the way," he said.
Two major political camps at the heart of Iran's politics, known as reformists and principlists, are trying to see the elections end in their own interests.
Reformists have backed the moderate Rouhani who won the 2013 race by a landslide in the first round with the aid of reformists.
On the other hand, PFIRF, a recently-founded coalition by the conservative camp, has endeavored to choose a final single candidate to increase the chances of conservatives winning the election.
Earlier this month, the national assembly of the conservative group named five candidates for the May presidential polls through voting.
The shortlist included Raeisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), who topped the list garnering 2,147 votes, followed by Alireza Zakani, a former lawmaker, with 1,546 votes, Mehrdad Bazrpash, also a former lawmaker, with 1,404 votes, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who is the current mayor of Tehran, with 1,373 votes, and Parviz Fattah, the current head of Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, with 994 votes. Fattah was later replaced by Hamid Reza Haji-Babaei, a former education minister.  
Rouhani and Raeisi submitted their names for registration at the Interior Ministry's Election Headquarters in Tehran on Friday, heating up the presidential race.
While it seems the odds are stacked in favor of the two heavyweights, several other well-known applicants have also entered the scene, including Mostafa Mirsalim, a member of Islamic Coalition Party, pro-reform lawmaker Mostafa Kavakebian, former parliamentarian Alireza Zakani, reformist figure Mohammad Zare' Foumani and prominent theological teacher, Ayatollah Mohsen Gharavian.
Former maverick president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his close ally Hamid Baqaei have also filed the paperwork to run for president. However, Ahmadinejad has said his registration is only meant to show his support for his former deputy.  
The five-day registration process for the presidential elections ended on Saturday after over 1,000 hopefuls signed up.


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