Iran preparing for peaceful election in insecure region

Tehran's mayor has dropped out of Iran's presidential election, allowing hardliners to a coalesce around a powerful conservative in the fight against the reformist-backed incumbent, Hassan Rouhani.

He was left with no option but to quit the race, however, when the main conservative parties and clerical bodies threw their support behind Raisi, a jurist and Shi'ite cleric who studied at the feet of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Since 1981, every Iranian president has won re-election.

Another survey by the Iranian Students Polling Agency last week showed that, in a head-to-head contest, neither Rouhani, nor Raisi would garner the 50 percent of votes needed to win in the first round and avoid a run-off. If Mr. Rouhani were to win a second term, Iran is likely to continue its course of open dialogue with Asia and Europe while signing new economic agreements with new partners who have been on standby since the rollback of sanctions following the nuclear deal.

"I urge the dear people of Iran to participate in the election and vote for their desired candidate in order to prevent inflicting more damage on the foundation of the republic", Karrubi was quoted as saying at a meeting with relatives. Clearly Raisi's blood-encrusted legacy is more appealing to Khamenei than the record of the so-called "moderate" Rouhani, under whose repressive leadership more than 3,000 people have been executed since he took office in 2013, making Iran the world's number one death penalty nation per-capita.

Supporters of the hardline camp are now widely visible online, in thousands of posts on Twitter or joining dozens of channels and groups affiliated with their candidate on the Telegram messaging app, which used by an estimated 20 million people in Iran.

Iran will simultaneously hold its 12th presidential election and the 5th City and Village Councils Elections on May 19. Trump, who has called the nuclear deal a "disaster", put Iran "on notice" after it tested a missile test this year, and has pleased the U.S.'s Sunni Gulf Arab allies by vowing to confront growing Iranian influence in the region. We believe Rouhani is poised to win because of his favorable economic program, openness to Iran's civil society, relationships with the United States and other global partners, and his current political position compared to the alternative candidates.

The past few years have been a rocky ride for the Iranian electorate.

This footage was shared by one of Rouhani's supporters. "We have resolved some problems and bigger problems remain for us to resolve on this hard path with him", Khatami said in a video message, "It is now your turn to renew your vote for our dear Rouhani in order to strengthen hope for a better future".

  • Zachary Reyes