How Iran's Hard-Liners Are Challenging Rouhani (From the Left)
Under the surface of the elections, the key issue of succession to the supreme leader is also playing out, especially as Raisi is allegedly being groomed for the position. This is now more evident than ever now that Ghalibaf has withdrawn to support Raisi. The goal is to consolidate anti-Rouhani and disaffected forces (not just conservatives) behind Raisi to clench a surprise victory on Friday; this will bring a joint Raisi-Ghalibaf campaign, including different conservative factions, to the new government if elected. That said, of course, Iranian elections are notoriously uncertain, and it remains to be seen whether Rouhani has managed to restore his image and regain the trust of the struggling classes in the fierce competition.
Payam Mohseni is the Director of the Iran Project and Fellow for Iran Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is also a Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University where he teaches Iranian and Middle East politics.
Image: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in April 2017. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/Hamed Malekpour