Qalibaf, Raeisi Pledged to Abide by PFIRF Decision

Qalibaf, Raeisi Pledged to Abide by PFIRF DecisionQalibaf, Raeisi Pledged to Abide by PFIRF Decision

Presidential contenders Ebrahim Raeisi and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf are to follow the electoral strategy of the principlist Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, a senior PFIRF member said.

Lawmaker Hassan Norouzi, speaking to ISNA on Sunday, confirmed that each of them has given pledges to step aside in favor of the other if it was deemed essential for winning the May 19 election.

The front was established last December to unite principlists behind a single candidate for preventing a split in principlist-minded electorates and avoid a repeat of their 2013 defeat.

In the previous vote, Hassan Rouhani secured more than 50% of votes, which was 12 million more than his closest rival Qalibaf and avoided a runoff, aided by a divided field of five principlist hopefuls.

Norouzi noted that the PFIRF strategy depends on opinion polls.

"If they show it would be a two-round poll, both candidates will remain in the competition. But if a PFIRF hopeful takes the lead and is able to win the race in the first round, then one should step down in favor of the other," he said.

Raeisi, a 56-year-old former prosecutor general and current custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), and Qalibaf, 55, a former police chief and the incumbent Tehran mayor, alongside Rouhani and three other hopefuls, held their first televised debate on social issues on Friday.

Commenting on the debate between the two leading challengers to Rouhani's reelection bid, Norouzi said his favorite was Qalibaf.

"Qalibaf managed to defend PFIRF values better, but Raeisi appeared more calm and relaxed. However, the two complement each other," he said.

The three-hour debate saw Qalibaf trading barbs with Rouhani and his Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, who is standing in the presidential marathon only to support Rouhani.

Raeisi, along with the other two candidates, former vice president, Mostafa Hashemitaba, and former culture and Islamic guidance minister, Mostafa Mirsalim, preferred to keep a low profile.

The campaign season for the six hopefuls started on April 21 and runs until 24 hours before the May 19 election.

The next two debates will be held on May 5 and May 12.


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