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Iranian presidential election, 2017

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Presidential elections were held in Iran on 19 May 2017. It was the twelfth presidential election in Iran. Local elections was also held alongside this election.

Electoral system

Eligibility

Any Iranian citizen above 18 years of age may register as a presidential candidate. An institution called the Election Monitoring Agency (EMA) and managed by the Guardian Council vets registered candidates (in the 2009 election 36,000 people signed up as candidates) and approves a handful to run in the election. The Guardian Council does not publicly announce the reason a particular candidate is rejected, although those reasons are explained to each candidate. Women who register as candidates have invariably been excluded from standing for election by the Council.[24][25]

Timeline

According to the official dates announced on 1 April 2017 by the Ministry of Interior:[26]

  • 11 April - Start of the election process with the Minister of the Interior's order
  • 11–13 April - Governors establish Executive Boards
  • 11–15 April – Registration period for candidates
  • 15 April – Registration ends at 18:00 IRDT
  • 16 April – Guardian Council begins vetting registered candidates
  • 20 April – Guardian Council addresses objections from disqualified candidates
  • 20 April – Final list of candidates announced
  • 21 April – Final candidates launch official campaigns
  • 17 May – End of campaigns
  • 19 May – Election date

Candidates

Registration and vetting process

 

During the five days period, a total of 1,636 individuals put their name to run for president, an increase over the 686 candidates in the previous election in 2013. Among the candidates was a record number of 137 women.[27] Hundreds of the applicants were ordinary people with no political background[28] and clearly lacked the criteria cited in the article 115 of the constitution, which is being considered among “religious and political rejal ("men" or "personalities", according to different interpretations)”[29]. Many criticized the law, which allows almost anyone to register to run.[27] Some intended to gain public attention, including political prisoners Mehdi Khazali and former MP Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi,[30] and some females tried to challenge the judicial interpretation of word rejal as "men", most notably the elderly Azam Taleghani who stepped using a walker.[27][30] On 20 April 2017, the Guardian Council announced a list of 6 approved candidates. The list contains incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, incumbent vice president Eshaq Jahangiri, Astan Quds Razavi custodian Ebrahim Raisi, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Mostafa Mir-Salim and Mostafa Hashemitaba.[31]

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his vice president Hamid Baghaei were disqualified.[23] Ahmadinejad who was advised by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei not run for the election[23] wrote a letter in September 2016 to him, pledging that he won't run.[23] On 11 February 2017, he officially declared that he would not back any candidate, however, in a video released on 19 March 2017 he announced his support for Hamid Baghaei[23] and surprised observers by himself registering to run.[23]

Mohammad Gharazi was also among those disqualified, despite being approved as a candidate in 2013.[23]

Approved candidates

CandidateParty affiliationSlogan and logoPrevious offices
ExecutiveLawmakingJudicialMilitary/Security

Mostafa Hashemitaba
(campaign)
Executives of Construction Party

Protecting Iran
N/AN/AN/A

Ebrahim Raisi
(campaign)
Combatant Clergy Association

Government of Dignity and Work
N/AN/A
N/A

Hassan Rouhani
(campaign)
Moderation and Development Party

Again [for] Iran
President (since 2013)
N/A

Mostafa Mir-Salim
(campaign)
Islamic Coalition Party

Rights must be fought for
N/AN/ACaretaker Commander of the Shahrbani (1980–1981)

Withdrawals

In his statement, Ghalibaf accused current president Hassan Rouhani of financial mismanagement and asserted that he and his supporters were "revolutionary opportunists."[23] The statement read:

The fight against pseudo-revolutionary opportunists has become highly costly, because this current is gnawing at the roots of the Revolution like a termite...[They] are not only at odds with the intellectual fundaments of original revolutionaries, but also represent a current whose material interests are at risk.[23]

 

CandidateParty affiliationSlogan and logoPrevious offices
ExecutiveLawmakingJudicialMilitary/Security

Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
(campaign)
Population For Progress and Justice

People's Government
Mayor of Tehran (since 2005)N/AN/A

Eshaq Jahangiri
(campaign)
Executives of Construction Party

All for Iran
MP (1984–1992)N/AN/A

Campaign

Debates and TV programs

 
First debate

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) provides each candidate with 210 minutes for campaign talks on TV,[24] and there would be three debate sessions on politics, economics, and social pressing issues aired on Channel 1.[24] On 20 April 2017, Election Campaign Monitoring Commission announced that there would be no live debates and it will broadcast prerecorded,[24] however, after vast criticism from candidates and Iranian people the commission revoked its desicion two days later.[24] Candidates are scheduled to air dedicated programmes on IRIB TV channels and radio stations, 555 minutes for each per candidate, and a sum of 1,470 minutes including the debates.[24] [1]

Campaigning techniques

The election was characterised for usage of populist practices[48][24] and mudslinging.[24]

The conservatives launched smear campaigns against the reformist-backed candidate Hassan Rouhani,[48][24] while he initially maintained positive campaigning. Rouhani later changed strategy by straightly attacking his rivals[52] and the incumbent administration used fearmongering tactics.[53]

Role of social media

Telegram instant messaging service, the most widely used messaging application in Iran, reportedly has more than 45 million users in a country of nearly 80 million as of April 2016.[54] It serves as a platform for Iranians to express their political opinions[55] and played an important role in the campaigns for the elections held in 2016 for Parliament and Assembly of Experts.[56] Two months before election, Iranian Judiciary arrested some pro-Hassan Rouhani Telegram channel administrators for “crimes against public morals and publishing obscenity”.[54]

The campaigners also used InstaLive, Instagram's feature of airing live videos to stream real-time campaign developments.[57] *57

Tactical nomination of Jahangiri

Rouhani and I are side-by-side.
— Eshaq Jahangiri[58]

President Rouhani's ally and first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri is standing in the election to support him during the campaign and in TV debates,[59] being called as a ‘fender’ or ‘cover candidate’ by Iranian media,[60] and will possibly later withdraw in support of the incumbent president.[61] The idea was allegedly recommended by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,[60] who was a key backer of Rouhani before his death in January 2017.[59] Another reason for the nomination was to have an ‘alternative candidate’ in case the Guardian Council disqualified Rouhani[26] or raise his profile for a bid in 2021.[58]

Jahangiri withdrew in favor of Rouhani on 16 May 2017.[42]

Hashemitaba's endorsement of Rouhani

Candidate Mostafa Hashemitaba released a statement on 15 May 2017 and endorsed Rouhani, but refused to quit the race. He said he “will vote for the current president to help extension of this government constructive approach.”[26]

Conservative consensus candidate

 
Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf at a campaign rally in Tehran, 16 May 2017

Among the approved candidates, Ebrahim Raisi, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Mostafa Mir-Salim are regarded as figures of the conservative camp, which intended to bring one single candidate for the election.[26] Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces endorsed both Raisi and Ghalibaf, and it was unclear that any of them will drop out in favor of a fellow conservative.[26] On 15 May 2017, Ghalibaf gave up his bid in favor of Raisi.[38] Mostafa Mir-Salim still remains in the race.

Endorsements and positions

OrganizationEndorsed candidate
Popular Front of Islamic Revolution ForcesEbrahim Raisi
Front of Islamic Revolution Stability[66]
Combatant Clergy Association[66]
Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom[26]
Resistance Front of Islamic Iran[26]
Front of Followers of the Line of the Imam and the Leader[26]
YEKTA Front[26]
Ansar-e-Hezbollah[71]
Union of Islamic Student Societies[72]
Islamic Society of Engineers[73]
Moderation and Development Party[74]Hassan Rouhani
Association of Combatant Clerics[77]
Assembly of Qom Seminary Scholars and Researchers[77]
Executives of Construction Party[78]
Union of Islamic Iran People Party[79]
National Trust Party[80]
Will of the Iranian Nation Party[81]
Islamic Association of University Instructors[82]
Islamic Iran Solidarity Party[83]
Democracy Party[84]
NEDA Party[85]
Workers' House[86]
Freedom Movement of Iran[87]
Kurdish United Front[88]
Iranian Call and Reform Organization[89]
Green Path of Hope[90]
National Front[29]
Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran[29]
Islamic Coalition Party[29]Mostafa Mir-Salim
 
Candidates posters at an official place of advertising

Opinion polls

 
Results of opinion polls conducted by the Washington D.C.-based International Perspectives for Public Opinion (iPPO)[102]

Results

 
Official ballot paper

No official count has been released as of yet. The Ministry of Interior will proceed to announce results gradually starting from 12:00AM IRT on the day following the elections.

CandidatePartyVotes%
 Hassan RouhaniModeration and Development Party9,648 
 Ebrahim RaisiCombatant Clergy Association96 
 Mostafa HashemitabaExecutives of Construction Party35 
 Mostafa Mir-SalimIslamic Coalition Party20 
Valid votes9,609 
Blank or invalid votes10 
Total votes cast9,819 
Registered voters/turnout56,410,234[103] 
Sources:

Votes by provinces

The table below displays the official vote tallies by province.

Provinces/districts won by Rouhani
Provinces/districts won by Raisi
Provinces/districts won by Mir-Salim
Provinces/districts won by Hashemitaba

Overseas results

The table below displays the official vote tallies by province.

Provinces/districts won by Rouhani
Provinces/districts won by Raisi
Provinces/districts won by Mir-Salim
Provinces/districts won by Hashemitaba

Polling stations

Abroad

Among the estimated 55 million citizens eligible to vote in the election, some 2.5 million live abroad and the elections will be held in 103 countries, including the United States.[104]

Canada, which hosts at least 40,000 Iranians,[104] does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, which has made the development of elections difficult. [105]

Allegations of foreign interference

Judiciary head remarks

Head of Iran's judicial system Sadeq Larijani warned that enemies have made a “huge investment” to undermine and exploit the elections. “The enemies may want to deal a blow to the Iranian political system during the elections”, he said.[106]

President of Tatarstan visit

On 20 April 2017, Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan and Putin's envoy met with candidate Ebrahim Raisi in Mashhad, in his capacity as the Head of Astan Quds Razavi. MP Alireza Rahimi questioned the meeting and asked for explanations about the reasons for this meeting, citing Russian interference in 2016 U.S. election. “The recent meeting raises the suspicion of interference in the elections, which is not appropriate”, he said.[108][109]

Minnikhanov also met vice president Eshaq Jahangiri in Tehran one day earlier, discussing bilateral relations according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.[110]

Reactions

Domestic

  • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: On 7 March 2017, IRGC commander-in-chief Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said “Like in the past, nobody in the IRGC, neither the guards nor the commanders, is permitted to interfere in the elections politically or factionally and to discredit the candidates”.[111] On 1 May 2017, Deputy IRGC Commander for Political Affairs Gen. Rasoul Sanaei told press that IRGC “will not support any candidate in the May 19 presidential election”.[31]

International

  • Israel Israel — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in an interview published on 11 April 2017 said “I wouldn’t be surprised if during the Iranian election on May 19, somebody assassinates the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani”.[31]
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