VP’s Candidacy Aimed at Hedging Rouhani’s Bet
Lawmakers described Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri’s decision to stand in the upcoming presidential poll as a well-thought-out move aimed at protecting President Hassan Rouhani’s reelection bid against conservative contenders.
“Jahangiri has participated with the aim of defending the government’s record in the election race and during electoral debates,” Hamid Reza Fouladgar said in a talk with ICANA on Monday.
The May 19 vote pits Rouhani and his moderate and reformist backers against conservative critics who are expected to mainly target the government’s economic performance during the 20-day campaigning scheduled to begin on April 28.
Fouladgar dismissed speculations that Jahangiri decided to run in case Rouhani was disqualified by the Guardians Council, a conservative panel of six clerics and six jurists in charge of overseeing elections and vetting candidates for political and Islamic qualifications.
“The chance of Rouhani’s disqualification is one in a thousand,” he said.
Jalal Mirzaei, another member of parliament, said Jahangiri’s participation alongside Rouhani in the presidential vote was not hard to predict and it had been agreed and planned in advance.
A total of 1,636 individuals, including 137 women, have put their names down for the election.
The screening process by the Guardians Council began on Sunday and will probably last till next Tuesday.
The final list of nominees will be announced by the Interior Ministry, the election organizer, on April 27.
Four of the five members of a short list put forward by the mainstream conservative bloc, known as the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, signed up for the race during the five-day registration period that ended on Saturday.
Among them, frontrunner Ebrahim Raeisi, a former prosecutor general and the current custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), is widely seen as the most formidable rival to Rouhani who enjoys the unanimous support of reformists.
A third prominent contender is former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although it is highly doubtful whether he would secure the Guardians Council’s approval.