The Iranian state media has spent the last week focusing on the election’s “possible candidates.” Several officials have declared their candidacy, but none of them, according to the regime’s media, “have enough experience to bring people to the ballot box.”
However, many within the regime claim that “military figures” are inappropriate in the current situation. According to an 11 April piece wired by the state-run IRNA news agency, “we have the longest list of candidates with a military background for the upcoming elections.”
“Many portray military figures as efficient, powerful, responsible managers, popular, self-reliant, pacifist, capable and structured potential presidents that can handle all of the country’s economic, domestic and foreign policy issues with their magic stick and achieve all national aspirations in four years!” wrote sarcastically the semi-official ISNA news agency.
This pattern also suggests that people believe they are not required to vote in elections. “[During Rouhani’s second term], due to the unprecedented manipulation of gasoline prices, unusual currency fluctuations, the U.S. exiting the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), Europe’s inability to maintain the JCPOA, and the lack of strong and coherent management that caused many socio-economic problems all joined forces to render despair among the people in the establishment.” wrote the state-run daily Aftab Yazd on 11 April.
The Aftab Yazd piece also acknowledged Iran’s society as a powder keg, as well as the people’s indignation at the regime:
“Skyrocketing prices, unemployment, and inflation resulted in unprecedented despair among various classes of our society and thus led to unrests, numerous protests, and demonstrations.
Regaining the people’s trust is not easy and the current candidates lack the charisma and capability needed to restore the society’s trust.”
As a result, speculation arose about potential “charismatic candidates,” including current judiciary leader Ebrahim Raisi and Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini.
Raisi is best known for his leadership role in the 1988 “Death Commissions,” which saw a trio of officials serve as judges and sentence 30,000 political prisoners to death following brief trials.
With the post-presidential election demonstrations of 2009 still vivid in his mind, Khamenei is fearful of losing control of the country’s already chaotic situation. On a different note,
Although Iran is still a month away from the candidates’ official announcements, the regime faces a difficult challenge in selecting a “young and Hezbollahi” nominee to lead their apparatus out of the current domestic and international crises. It’s worth noting that the regime reported a participation rate of less than 42% in the February 2020 legislative elections, the lowest in the Islamic Republic’s history, and as result, the biggest problem for the mullahs is the population’s pledge to boycott the election.