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Netiran>Articles>Politics>Presidency>Who Will Be the Next Iranian President?: "Who Will Be the Next Iranian President?

Eqtesad-e Iran, Monthly Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 62, Apr. 2004, Page 24
Word Count : 719

Although any debate about the next presidential election slated for spring 2005 is a bit early, yet figures such as Hassan Rowhani, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Reza Bahonar and Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri are among possible conservative candidates. In the opposite camp, that is the reformists Mohammad Reza Khatami, Ataollah Mohajerani and Mirhossein Mousavi are believed to have a chance.

Before the final composition of the seventh Majlis is made clear, perhaps it would be premature to talk about possible presidential candidates for 2005 elections. In fact various developments that are expected to happen within framework of domestic and foreign policies will make it difficult to predict who will take charge of the Executive. Also, before the seventh Majlis starts to work it is not wise to say who or which group will win presidential campaigns.

However, taking into account tendencies of various personalities, factions and political groups and foreign policy issues facing Iran, different scenarios could be predicted. Several prominent figures have so far indicated their willingness to run for president. The first person mentioned most frequently by domestic and foreign media was secretary of the Supreme Council of National Security, Hassan Rowhani, who is also Iran's top nuclear negotiator with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He managed to bring the country's nuclear crisis to a kind of compromise through historical negotiations with foreign ministers of Europe's big three at Sa'adabad. By using suitable diplomatic tools, he settled the issue which apart from being a personal achievement for him, at least delayed a crisis that could have cost Iran very costly.

However, he has opponents in both conservative and reformists camps and he has to step up his endeavors in the run-up to the next presidential polls.

Iran's diplomatic apparatus is expected to be called into action due to increasing significance of such issues as the big Middle East plan worked out by the United States, fighting Al Qaeda and its global terror network, regional nuclear issues, as well as the establishment of an official government in Iraq and stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, in view of the Hassan Rowhani's achievement in negotiating with the European authorities, he is expected to have busy days during the new Iranian year.

In addition to Rowhani, who belongs to pragmatic spectrum of the rightist faction, other names heard are Mohammad Javad Larijani and Ali Akbar Velayati.

Mohammad Javad Larijani is mainly known as a political ideologue among conservatives has been mostly absent from official diplomatic scenes despite his high potentials for engagement with the Europeans, especially, UK. Larijani is among trusted figures of the Islamic system, who has managed to pull off foreign policy challenges of the Islamic Republic in his own way.

On the other hand, Ali Akbar Velayati, a former pediatrician, is a seasoned diplomat with 16 years of experience as foreign minister during war and reconstruction periods. However, some believe that despite that work record he stands less chance for presidency than other conservative figures.

Other conservative personalities enjoying even less chance include former Majlis deputy, Mohammad Reza Bahonar; and former Majlis speaker, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri.

From Reformist to Independent

The reformists who are still stunned with the blow they received during seventh Majlis elections, have done little yet. Two weeks after parliamentary polls, secretary general of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Mohammad Reza Khatami, told daily Al-Watan that his party would take active part in the upcoming presidential polls. Major reformist figures whose names have been mentioned include Ataollah Mohajerani, the resigned minister of Khatami and former head of the Institute for Dialogue Among Civilizations; Mehdi Karroubi, current Majlis speaker; Mirhossein Mousavi, the successful prime minister of war period; and Mohammad Reza Khatmi himself. However, they stand less chance than conservative rivals, but are likely to run for president in 2005.

Of course, the former president and current chairman of the Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani cannot be ignored. Also, independent candidates and remote possibilities such as women's candidacy should be born in mind. However, to find the answer to the question that who will be Iran's next president, one must wait until June 2005."

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