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Iran Approves Just 8 Presidential Candidates, Sets Stage For One-Faction Institutional Control

Iran’s Guardian Council has approved a total of eight candidates, out of some 680 applicants, to run in the country’s June 14th presidential election to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Tower had reported on regime moves – made over the last four years, and intensifying in recent month – to break the back of the political opposition. Tehran’s goal was to ensure that hardliners and regime-loyalists dominated the field of candidates.

Their efforts seem to have succeeded. Six of the approved candidates are considered very close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The major candidate who was seen as even somewhat independent – former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani – was rejected:

Mr Rafsanjani, who was president between 1989 and 1997, had been seen as a candidate who could win the support of pro-reform and centrist politicians, whose two leaders from the last election are under arrest. No explanation was given for his disqualification, but Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodai had suggested it would disqualify the 78 year old because he would be unlikely to cope with the demands of the presidency.

The result will likely be complete, formal control of all Iranian state institutions by a single Iranian faction:

Barring further surprises, the winner of the June election will now be drawn from a slate of conservative candidates in Iran’s ruling camp, a loose alliance of Shiite Muslim clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders. That would put the last major state institution under their control — the first time since the 1979 revolution that all state institutions were under the firm control of one faction… All of them say they are ready to fix the economy by using a “revolutionary mind-set” and to solve the nuclear dispute with the Western powers by convincing them that Iran’s position is just.

Members of the Council are not elected by the public. The Council’s interpretation of Iran’s constitution effectively bars women, non-Muslims, and even Sunnis from running for President. Its decisions are not subject to appeal.

Brief bios of the permitted candidates can be found here.

Observers familiar with the regime speculate that Jalili and Veleyati are the strongest in the field.

[Photo: PressTVGlobalNews / YouTube]