APPLICATIONS for the ticklish job of president of Iran opened this week, with more than 100 hopefuls vying to replace the incumbent, Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate, at the election on May 19th. The religious conservatives who loom so large in Iran are hoping they can unite around a single candidate, overcoming the divisions that doomed their prospects in 2013 and allowed Mr Rohani to win.
Their preferred man is Ebrahim Raeisi, the newly appointed head of one of Iran’s most important and best-endowed shrines, Imam Reza in Mashhad. In addition to income from the shrine’s holdings, which include car factories, he is a protégé of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But to Mr Raeisi’s probable consternation, on April 12th a divisive ultra-conservative former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also entered the race, despite orders from Mr Khamenei not to stand. This makes it more likely that the hardliners will again see their vote split.
Still, the anti-Iranian rhetoric of Donald Trump, America’s president, is a big bonus for the anti-reformists, should they come together. After a nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers was concluded in…Continue reading