Iran’s Conservative Rulers Effort to Organize The June 18 presidential election result led to voter boycotts – but the outcome may still bode well Ongoing Negotiations on the Expired 2015 Nuclear Deal
The main candidate Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s chief justice and close ally of the supreme leader. He is certain of victory after candidates who could have posed a serious challenge to him – including three reformers – They are excluded They were prevented from participating in the elections.
The Unprecedented disqualification I got angry Large groups of liberal and moderate voters, and Many vowed to boycott the elections. As a result, the turnout expected to be well below 50%, and probably the lowest historical level.
But who is Ibrahim Raisi, and how will his presidency change Iran’s domestic and foreign policies? as a Economist and close observer of IranI think we can begin to answer these questions by exploring his past.
Raisi is a loyal insider in the regime and has a long career in the Iranian judicial branch, which goes way back More than four decades.
He was only 19 years old when he was Islamic revolution The Shah was deposed in 1979. As a young Islamic activist, he caught the attention of several senior revolutionary clerics, including Ali Khamenei, who became Supreme Commander After a decade.
Appointed the public prosecutor of Kataj – a small town near Tehran – at the age of twenty, Raisi quickly rose to more prestigious positions. In 1989, when Khamenei replaced Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader, Raisi was promoted to the position of attorney general in Tehran.
This promotion reflects high level Of the confidence that Khamenei had in him. While serving in these positions, Raisi also attended religious and religious studies under Khamenei and other influential religious leaders.
Executing dissidents and fighting corruption
During the first decade of his career, Raisi condemned a large number of dissidents and political opponents of the Islamic regime and Many of them were sentenced to death.
Critics of the regime and its political opponents condemned His direct role in these executions, especially the large number of political prisoners who were executed in 1988.
From 1994 to 2004, Raisi served as the head of the Office of the Inspector General of Iran, responsible for preventing abuse of power and corruption in government institutions. It was in this position that he developed The reputation of the crusaders against government corruption الفساد. Even when he was appointed as the first vice president of the Supreme Court in 2004 and finally promoted to the position of chief justice in March 2019, he continued his fight against corruption Through the prosecution of several government officials.
However, his critics argued that his anti-corruption was high Politicized and selective. They alleged that he targeted individuals affiliated with his political opponents, such as President Hassan Rouhani.
Raisi ran for the first time for president in 2017, but he was defeated by current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who became ineligible to run again after two terms.
In this year’s elections, Raisi is the preferred candidate for the conservative right-wing of the ruling Islamist elite, and also enjoys the support of Ayatollah Khamenei, who wields absolute power over all branches of government. Khamenei also appoints half of the 12 members directly Council of Guardians, which oversees all political elections and has the power to disqualify candidates without any public explanation. Khamenei Publicly endorsed and defended disqualification.
It is possible to return to the nuclear deal
One of the institutional weaknesses of the Iranian political system since the 1979 Islamic Revolution has been the potential for tension and discord between the elected presidents and the Supreme Leader.
This, unlike the US system of government, the The Iranian president’s powers are very limited. For example, a reformist president may want to engage more with the West or stay out of an external conflict, but the Supreme Leader can overrule or simply ignore him.
As a close ally and ally of the Supreme Leader, Raisi is expected to support Khamenei’s policies in both domestic and foreign policy – which means more coordination between the various branches of government. With Khamenei’s supporters in control of parliament, this also means that conservatives will control all three branches of government again eight years later.
This consistency means that Raisi will be more effective as president because whatever policies he pursues, the Supreme Leader is likely to support them.
Perhaps ironically, his victory could pave the way for a more compromising position on the part of Iran in the negotiations currently underway in Vienna to restore 2015 nuclear dealAnd the who went off track by former US President Donald Trump in 2018.
The reason for this unorthodox expectation is that both reformist and conservative factions in Iran are well aware that the new nuclear agreement, which could end severe economic sanctions imposed on the country, is very popular. The team that signs the agreement will receive credit for termination Economic hardship The country is currently suffering. For example, inflation over 50%, exports declined due to sanctions and More than 60% of the population now lives in poverty, up from 48% just two years ago.
If Raisi becomes president, conservatives and the supreme leader will have greater incentives to reach an agreement with the United States to lift sanctions because they can no longer blame a reformist president for economic hardship.
However, the success of this strategy is far from guaranteed.
First, if Khamenei, Raisi and their hardline supporters insist on preserving Iran Confrontational foreign policyIt seems to me unlikely that economic sanctions on Iran will be eased. Not all of them are directly related to the nuclear deal, including Sanctions against my boss himself.
Second, the growing sense of alienation and frustration among large segments of Iran’s population—particularly after reformists have been barred from running for president—may lead to mass disturbances and political instability.
The chief supreme leader?
A major victory could have a more significant impact on Iranian politics in the long run as it could pave the way for him to become Iran’s next supreme leader.
Ayatollah Khamenei is in his 80s, and the new Supreme Leader’s succession is likely in the next four years. According to many system insiders, it is considered a major probably To replace Khamenei if he wins the presidential election.
If Raisi eventually becomes the supreme leader of Iran, he will have much greater powers to shape all kinds of policies. Based on his background and values, he is likely to resist political and social reforms and try to gain legitimacy for the Islamic system by focusing on economic development in In a similar way To authoritarian regimes in Asia, such as China, by focusing on economic growth while curtailing political and social freedoms.
Raisi as president – and ultimately as commander in chief – is unlikely to abandon Iran’s anti-Western foreign policy, but he has the potential to reduce tensions to a more manageable level in order to improve Iran’s economy.
In my view, he appears to have recognized that the persistence of the current economic hardships poses the greatest long-term threat to the Islamic system.
[Explore the intersection of faith, politics, arts and culture. Conversation, a non-profit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. written by: Nader HabibiAnd the Brandeis University.
Nader Habibi does not work, consult, hold shares or receive funding from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and has not disclosed any relevant affiliations after their academic appointment.