A clash between staunch opponents of Western influence

A clash between staunch opponents of Western influence

Iran is holding snap elections on June 28 following the sudden death of former Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. However, analysts believe that the upcoming election is unlikely to bring about any significant change in the country. The election comes at a time when Iran is facing a battered economy, widespread discontent among the population, crackdowns on dissent, high inflation, heavy Western sanctions, nuclear enrichment activities, and tensions with the U.S. and Israel.

The Guardian Council, which approves the candidates for the presidency, has selected a list of six candidates, most of whom are hardliners with anti-Western views. Only one candidate represents the reformist camp, and all female candidates were disqualified by the Council. Behnam ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stated that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei plays a significant role in the election process and is looking for continuity rather than change.

The outcome of the upcoming election is expected to be relatively predictable, with hardliners dominating the race. The approval of candidates by the Guardian Council has dashed hopes for a competitive election and indicates that the hardliners are likely to maintain power. The low voter turnout is anticipated due to widespread disillusionment with the rigged system and economic crisis. The Union for Secular Republic and Human Rights in Iran has called for an active boycott of the election, criticizing it as a “show election.”

While the Iranian government is urging the public to vote, the turnout is not a major concern for the regime. Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, noted that the government is no longer prioritizing electoral legitimacy as it did in the past. The candidate list has been curated to ensure a relatively predictable outcome in favor of conservatives.

Overall, the upcoming election is expected to further consolidate power within the hardline and conservative camps in Iran. With the leadership showing little concern for growing dissatisfaction and protests, the path ahead seems to be one of continued authoritarian rule without significant changes or reforms. Iran is set to continue down the same path under the guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, solidifying his power within the regime.