On May 19th Iran will hold its 20th presidential election.
The stakes for this election are high as the regional cold war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran has intensified since Trump’s election. The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have been on a united front against Iran, pushing for increased sanctions, especially in the light of Iran’s ballistic missile test.
Current president Hassan Rouhani, who presented himself to Iranian voters as a moderate during his 2013 presidential campaign, has drawn international criticism for the test, and for his order for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation to begin construction on nuclear-powered warships, a violation of their nuclear deal.
He does, however, remain the front-runner for the election as the Reformist candidate. Also running is the independent Hamid Baqai, a former confident to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran Revolutionary Guard General Ezzatollah Zarghami.
The main political division is between reformist candidates, who are politically liberal and offer more in terms of women’s rights, and principalists who adhere to the doctrines put forth during the Islamic Revolution.
The results of the election will have far-reaching implications for the Middle East, where the Iranian-backed Asad regime waged a successful war against the rebels and ISIS, and in Yemen where the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels staged a successful coup d’etat in 2015.
Iran has also been involved in the political landscape of Lebanon, funding Hezbollah.
Although the president of Iran is the highest elected office of the nation, the Supreme Leader is in charge of their armed forces, judiciary system, state television and has the final authority on economic, environmental, and foreign policy.
In order to run for president in Iran a candidate must be over the age of 21, Iranian-born, believe in Islam, and approved by the Guardian Council, which does not accept women.
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