(Clockwise from top L): The six approved candidates for Iran’s Presidential election: Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Masoud Pezeshkian, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh, and Alireza Zakani

A Beginner’s Guide to Iran’s “Managed” Presidential Election


A correspondent for Amwaj details how and why Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani was disqualified by the Guardian Council from standing for President.

In 2021 Larijani was barred to ensure that Ebrahim Raisi won the Presidency. The Supreme Leader subsequently expressed his disquiet about the situation, “Some people who were not qualified faced…false things that were attributed to them or their families, who were respectable and chaste, and those reports were later proven to be false.” He called on the Council to rectify the “injustice”.

Larijani obtained a list of reasons for his disqualification, and presented evidence to deal with them. He sent a letter to the Supreme Leader, asking him to probe whether the Council’s reasons for disqualification were still valid. Ayatollah Khamenei ordered judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei to investigate.

Because Mohseni-Ejei cleared him of the allegations, Larijani filed his candidacy for the snap election after the death of President Raisi. But he did not ensure that he had a green light from Khamenei.

The Council voted 7 to 5 to disqualify the former Parliament Speaker, holding a second ballot to confirm the ban.

High-ranking clerics in the holy city of Qom were reportedly dismayed, unsuccessfully asking the Guardian Council to reconsider. One senior cleric told Amway that that the “real reason” for the disqualification is “rooted in the Islamic Republic’s concerns about succession” of the 85-year-old Khamenei.


In a possible warning to media over its coverage of the forthcoming Presidential election, two Iranian journalists have been imprisoned.

Yashar Soltani was given 14 months in prison and Saba Azarpeik was condemned to two years. Both had exposed corruption among politicians, including claims against Presidential candidate and Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf.

Judiciary head Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei warned media and both qualified and disqualified candidates to avoid “actions” that could be “exploited” by foreign entities.

He said media platforms should not engage in “defamatory speech, spreading lies, or disturbing public opinion”, otherwise they could suffer legal consequences.

Last week, Iranian authorities issued strict guidelines declaring “criminal” any content which it believes is discouraging voter turnout, promoting election boycotts. The organization of unlicensed protest gatherings, strikes, or sit-ins may also be prosecuted.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, JUNE 9: Managing Iran’s June 28 Presidential election, the Guardian Council has disqualified all but six candidates.

Among those barred were Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President from 2005 to 2013; Ali Larijani, Parliament Speaker from 2008 to 2020; all but one reformist or centrist, including Eshaq Jahangiri, 1st Vice President from 2013 to 2021; and the four women who applied.

Larijani and Ahmadinejad were also blocked in 2021, helping ensure that Ebrahim Raisi had a clear run at the Presidency. Raisi died in a helicopter crash while returning from Azerbaijan last month.

The six men approved by the Council are:

  • Conservative Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, current Parliament Speaker, former Revolutionary Guards commander, and former Mayor of Tehran. This is his fourth Presidential campaign, having failed in 2005, 2013, and 2017;
  • Hardliner Saeed Jalili, former Secretary of the National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator. He also ran in 2013;
  • Hardliner Alireza Zakani, the Mayor of Tehran since 2021;
  • Conservative Mostafa Pourmohammadi, a former Interior, Justice, and Deputy Intelligence Minister. He was disqualified by the Guardian Council from standing for the Assembly of Experts earlier this year;
  • Hardliner Amirhossein Ghazizadeh, a Vice President and the head of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs
  • Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, former Health Minister and Deputy Parliament Speaker.

Half of the Council’s 12 members are named by the Supreme Leader, and the other half by Parliament. After the mass protests over the disputed Presidential election — and a miscalculation that allowed centrist Hassan Rouhani to win the Presidency in 2013, as Qalibaf and Jalili were among three candidates splitting the conservative/hardline vote — the Council has tightened its grip over those deemed acceptable to the Supreme Leader’s office and other regime factions.

Pourmohammadi, Ghazizadeh, and Pezeshkian appear to have little chance of widespread support, serving as tokens to give the impression of a range of candidates. The Reformist Front said it would participate in elections only if at least one of its nominated candidates was approved.

The Supreme Leader’s choice would appear to be between Qalibaf and Jalili. However, with Qalibaf opposed by many hardliners and Jalili disliked by many conservatives, Zakani could emerge as the “compromise”.

That could have the bonus for the regime of a contest rather than an anointment, given concern over the historic low turnouts in the 2021 Presidential election (officially 48.5%) and 2024 Parliamentary vote (41%).