Iran’s Presidential Candidates Begin Registration Process

From Left: Kavakebian, Vaez-Zadeh, Lankarani, Saeedikia, Rowhani

From Left: Kavakebian, Vaez-Zadeh, Lankarani, Saeedikia, Rowhani

Registration for candidates for Iran’s 11th presidential elections officially began at 8 this morning in Tehran at Iran’s Interior Ministry building. Candidates have until 6 pm Saturday, May 11 to register their names. After the registration process closes, the 12-member Guardian Council will issue its first list of those they deem qualified to run. After an appeal process, the final list of Iran’s presidential candidates permitted to run will be issued by the Guardian Council on May 23.

Nearly two dozen candidates have registered their names at this point. Some of the more prominent candidates spoke to reporters after registering.

Former nuclear negotiator and current head of the Center for Strategic Research Hassan Rowhani was perhaps the highest-profile registration today. He said that “saving the economy, reviving the morale of society and constructive engagement with the world” is what he would bring as president.

Rowhani has attempted to position himself as a “moderate” between the Reformists and Principlists. He said that “I am a moderate individual. I’ve always had close and warm relations with moderate Reformists and Principlists. …I’ve consulted and spoken with the leaders of both sides and I hope I can attract the votes of all the moderates in society and those who believe in reason and moderation.”

To questions about Rafsanjani’s potential candidacy, Rowhani said, “you have to ask him that,” but he did add that “it’s unlikely that he will register.” Ali Younessi, the minister of intelligence under President Mohammad Khatami, said that he met with Rafsanjani and doesn’t believe he will run. He added, “We’re certain that Rafsanjani will not run, but assuming he does, Rowhani will put out.” In January, MP Temour Ali Asgari, who is close to Rafsanjani and Rowhani, made similar statements to Etemad newspaper.

One of the first candidates to register was Sadegh Vaez-zadeh, a former deputy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a member of the Expediency Council. He said that he “had designed a comprehensive plan to solve inflation,” adding, “We’ve come to realize the fundamental needs of the people, especially the youth, and I believe the current state is not desirable and we can neither return to the past.”

Former health minister under President Ahmadinejad’s administration Kamran Bagheri Lankari also registered today. He said that “our goal is to bring about calm in the country, not tensions.” Lankari said that he wants to address “reforming the banking system” and “corruption in the administration.” On former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s potential candidacy, Lankari said, “I think the young country of Iran needs young ideas rather than returning to the past.” Lankari is also close to hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a former supporter of the president.

Former minister under previous administrations Mohammad Saeedikia also registered today. Saeedikia is not a favored candidate and questions revolved around his response to being disqualified, to which he responded, “I’m dependent on the law.” Mostafa Kavakebian was another political figure to register today. He said, “My slogan is ‘long live Reformism,’ my administration will named ‘morality,’ and my color is green.”

Many candidates picked various colors to represent their campaigns. Green was the color chosen by Reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi in the 2009 elections, which came to be later known as the Green Movement.