Tehran, Iran – Seven candidates who are eligible to participate in Iran’s June 18 presidential election confronted head-to-head in a televised debate because disputes over the disqualification of other candidates still exist.
Saturday’s three-hour event focused on the economy. Under US sanctions, the economy has suffered heavy losses in the past three years, characterized by rampant inflation and high unemployment. The other two debates are scheduled for Tuesday and next Saturday.
The first session was held without restraint. Instead, the host of the national television station picked a numbered ball from the glass container, indicating which candidate will be randomly selected for the question, and then the candidate has three minutes to answer.
But most of the debate almost completely ignores issues—from tax evasion to budget deficit management to big bank debtors—because candidates attack each other and discuss work they believe is essential to supporting the economy.
In the second round of the competition, each candidate-sitting six feet behind the podium-had four minutes to protect themselves from others. Afterwards, the participants elaborated on their economic plans in more detail in a four-minute speech. Their microphones were cut off the moment their time ran out.
The head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, is considered the front-runner so far in the upcoming polls and seems to have become the focus of attention.
Technocrat’s former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and reformist former vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh were the only critics of conservative Raisi.
The remaining four conservative and hard-line candidates-Senior Security Officer Said Jalili; Secretary of the Expediency Committee Mohsen Rezaei; and legislators Alireza Zakani and Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi-did not challenge Raisi but attacked them Reformists and the current government.
This led Hemmati to claim that the other candidates were only acting as cover for Raisi, and they strongly rejected the accusation.
Mehralizadeh said that he respects Raisi’s studies at the seminary, but believes that he is not capable of managing a country with a population of more than 82 million because he has only completed six grades of traditional education and has zero administrative and economic leadership experience.
He also joked that Raisi had transitioned from serving as a judge for most of his career to being the head of the powerful Astan Quds Razavi religious organization in Mashhad, becoming the Minister of Justice in 2019 after his defeat in the 2017 presidential campaign.
“Is there any guarantee that you will not give up the presidency for a higher position?” Mehralizad asked, alluding to the broad assumption that when the 82-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died , Lai Xi will become the next supreme leader.
In response, Ressi said that criticizing him could not solve the country’s problems. He said he had zero ambitions for position and power, and added that he was only answering public calls.
At the same time, Hemati has stated that he hopes to represent the “silent majority” of Iranians in the election and is trying to distance himself from the economic legacy of the outgoing President Hasan Rouhani, but he has been repeatedly tried to portray him. As part of the attack by opponents. Issues related to the country’s economic difficulties.
Four-term presidential candidate Rezai took out a rial banknote and said that he had known decades ago that the troubled national currency would depreciate sharply. He called the Rouhani government one of the worst since the 1979 revolution, and said that “the train of the revolution has become a scooter.”
The former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was criticized by Hemmati for previously implying that Iran could make money by hijacking American citizens. He directly threatened that the former central banker was prosecuted and prosecuted for his role in the IRGC. Imprisonment. Economic treatment. This led Hemmati to ask Attorney General Raisi to guarantee that he would not go to jail.
Hemmati also criticized Rezaei and other hardliners for delaying the remaining bills in order to complete Iran’s financial transparency action plan with the Financial Action Task Force, and said that he regrets that many Iranians, especially women, are not represented in the presidential candidates.
The supreme leader ignores disqualification
The quarrel between the candidates occurred a day after Khamenei stated that the constitutional review body called the Guardianship Council (six members of which were directly appointed by him and the other six by the attorney general) made an error in evaluating the candidates.
The top leader did not name the candidates, but said that some of them were “misled”, disqualified due to false information, and “required” for correction.
He was obviously referring to Ali Larijani, a three-term former speaker and current adviser. If he had not been disqualified, he could have become Raisi’s biggest competitor.
Sadeq Amoli Larijani, the brother of the disqualified candidate and member of the Guardianship Board, said in a statement that he had never found a body so “untenable” during his 20 years there. “Foot”, and stated that the intelligence agency had caused his brother’s qualifications to be disqualified by providing false reports.
A few hours after Khamenei’s speech, the Security Council issued a statement stating that it would not change the vote — essentially a violation of the direct order of the supreme leader and an unprecedented action.
First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and many other reformist and pragmatic candidates were also disqualified by the council, leading to the removal of critical non-conservative candidates.
Due to economic and social difficulties, the public is generally disillusioned, and it is expected that the turnout rate will be very low.