Khamenei Knocks Out Two Leading Presidential Candidates Of Iran’s Reform Camp
The Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has effectively put an end to the election hopes of two of the three leading candidates named by Iran's reform camp for the June presidential election.
During the weekend, Iran's reformists published a list of 14 potential candidates named by the umbrella organization of Iranian reformists.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was the most popular figure with 37 votes, Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri came second with 35 votes, and former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh was the third nominee with 32 votes. They were by far ahead of all other 11 political figures. However, those named in the list may present their plans for their prospective presidency to the umbrella organization.
In his speech on Sunday, Khamenei put an end to Zarif's candidacy albeit without naming him, by harshly criticizing him for undermining the IRGC Qods Force and its late commander Qasem Soleimani.
Many in Iran believe Zarif's career has come to an end because Khamenei did not utter even one kind word as a sign of forgiving Zarif. In the past when Zarif came under attack by hardliners following the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers Khamenei always had his back.
Zarif in turn has not really apologized, as is customary in Iranian culture. Although he has "regretted" hurting Khamenei's feelings, but that was far short of an outright apology that Khamenei would have expected.
Meanwhile, alluding to Tajzadeh who has announced plans that step beyond the authority of an Iranian President, including sending the IRGC back to its barracks and limiting the Supreme Leader's lifetime leadership, Khamenei said that those who do not know and accept the Iranian Constitution should not run for president.
This leaves Jahangiri as the Reformists top candidate, with an edge of 12 votes over candidate number 4, who is a low key political figure. In the meantime, critics have said that Jahangiri's presidency would look like a third term for President Hassan Rouhani.
Still, despite his popularity among the members of the reformists' umbrella organization, Jahangiri does not seem to have any appeal among the public. On May 1, reformist journalist Hassan Assadi Zeydabadi was one of Iranian social media users who tweeted about the unimpressive presence of Jahangiri on the audio chat application Clubhouse the previous evening, calling his presence "a total failure." He wrote: "It sounded like a news conference where only a few reporters asked questions. There was no interaction between Jahangiri and ordinary people in the audience. Users were utterly disillusioned by his repetitive comments."
Only some 700 users turned up for the chat with Jahangiri, while reformist figure Faezeh Hashemi attracted some 24,000 Clubhouse users and some 12,000 turned up for the chat with another reformist politician, Mostafa Tajzadeh.
The reformists only hope is winning in the choice between bad and worse, only if the conservatives' candidate is really "the worst" possible choice, one Twitter user wrote in a comment under Zeydabadi's tweet.
Meanwhile, referring to the unusually large number of candidates for the upcoming presidential election in Iran, conservative website Tabnak wrote that many of those who nominate themselves know they have very little or no chance of getting elected, but they still become a candidate to withdraw their candidacy at one point in favor of the likely winner while asking for a position in the cabinet or even as the mayor of a big city.
Otherwise, at least at this point, it looks like one of the dullest elections in Iranian history is shaping up, as many on social media say over and over that they do not see any point in voting while all the decisions in the country are made by one man.