Iran’s Election: Principalists In Disarray After Hashemi Disqualified

As Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s candidacy broke the arrangement among Iran’s presidential candidates, his withdrawal did the same too.

The 78 year old politician, who entered with much hype and went away silently, caused a unity among Pincipalists at first, but his withdrawal created division.

They don’t think of Mohammad Reza Aref, Mohsen Rezaei, Hasan Rowhani and Mohammad Gharazi as serious opponents, so they don’t feel the need for unity.

Four Pincipalist candidates are Ali Akbar Velayati, Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf and Haddad Adel who are three members of the Progressive Coalition or the Coalition of 2+1 who seem to be open to Saeed Jalili joining them.

The members of the Progressive Coalition were supposed to reach a consensus on one candidate, based on polls and surveys. But even 20 days after the agreement, no one stood aside for the sake of the other two.

Elections 2013 Candidates, Left to Right: Mohmmad Reza Aref, Gholamali Hadad-Adel, Ali Akbar Velyati, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nori

From Left to Right: Mohmmad Reza Aref, Gholamali Hadad-Adel, Ali Akbar Velyati, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nori

Ali Akbar Velayati

Velayati, an advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei on International affairs, recently said “the three members of the coalition will keep campaigning and at a point before the voting day on June 14, we will decide who is going to be the final candidate.

He also said the decision by the Combatant Clergy Association and the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom (two highly influential clergy institutions in Iran) is highly capable of choosing the final candidate.

“The exact time of announcing the chosen candidate is not clear and depends on the coalition’s decision. Debates and talks will be held and they will decide by popularity, legitimacy and efficiency,” Shahin Mohammad Sadeghi, MP and the head of Velayati’s presidential campaign told Iran’sView.

He reiterated that the polls and surveys are just as important as the decision by the two important clergy institutions.

“Jalili’s involvement in the Progressive coalition is also relying on the decision by the coalition members. But the whole Principalist party is trying to reach an accord based on the decision of aforementioned institutions and public popularity,” he said.

 

Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf

Yet Qalibaf is not a fan of this idea. Because even though recent polls put him above Velayati and Haddad Adel, he will not have a chance with the two clergy institutions.

Gholam Ali Haddad Adel

Haddad Adel, former Speaker of the Majlis, said on Wednesday, “We think of Jalili as a Pincipalist and in case he joins our Progressive coalition only one of us will stand for presidency.”

Like Velayati, he believes in the final decision by the two clergy institutions, but “We also consider polls and we have to wait for the TV debates to assess the real outcome.”

It is not clear whether the coalition of 2+1will turn into 4, but Jalili hasn’t responded to the invitation by the coalition.

Saeed Jalili is known for being the chief nuclear negotiator among the public and has more votes from the Pincipalist party and other tough defenders of nuclear rights.

Head of the Hadad Adel presidential campaign, Hossein Nejabat has a different view from Sadeghi.

“When Mr.Velayati said [all members of the coalition] will campaign separately until the end, he did not mean campaigning until the voting day, but it might be the 6th or 7th of June,” he said in an interview with Iran’sView.

“The polls are taken one week before the election and will decide the fate of the progressive coalition. In fact, the coalition thinks public opinion is not shaped yet. They are waiting for the TV campaigns to decide on the final candidate. It is definite that three of them will not seek a spot on the ballot,” Nejabat said.

Nejabat also thinks differently about the decision of the two clergy institutions.

“Those institutions will not meddle in the election or decide on the final candidate,” he said, but “It is very important for the coalition that senior clerics are not against the final candidate so they are trying to be on the same path as them.”

He also denies inviting Jalili and says Hadad Adel did not invite him directly.

“A group of students asked Dr. Adel if he will accept Jalili as a member of the coalition if he stands for candidacy. Adel answered, if Jalili attracts a significant amount of voters we will consider his participation.”

 

Saeed Jalili waving his hands to the crowd of his supporters during his first election campaign in Tehran on May 24,2013. (Photo Credit: Nasim)

Saeed Jalili waving his hands to the crowd of his supporters during his first election campaign in Tehran on May 24,2013. (Photo Credit: Nasim)

Saeed Jalili

Bagheri Lankarani and Alireza Zakani withdrawal has boosted Jalili’s votes and gained him popularity but it seems that Jalili is not that willing to join the “Progressive Coalition”.

He is characterized by his firm stance on foreign policy, avoiding huge campaign expenditures and distancing himself from secular parts of society. This has distinguished him from other coalition members, especially Qalibaf.

Qalibaf and Velayati to some extent are not cynical about figures like Hashemi but Jalili is.

Even though he is more like Adel, because of his differences with Qalibaf, it is less likely that he will join the progressive coalition and this division will work for the benefit of the reformists.

If Qalibaf is to be the final candidate, many of Velayati and Adel supporters will abandon Qalibaf. Becuase Adel and Velayati to seem to think closer to Jalili.

We have to see if the possibility of the victory of the two independent candidates (Mohsen Reza’ei and Mohammad Gharazi) or the two Reformist candidates (Aref and Rowhani) will convince the Pinricpalists to set their differences aside or the elections will become more volite.

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