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The Iran Primer

Election: Stunning Results and Videos

            Hassan Rouhani, the lone reformist candidate, won Iran’s presidential election with 50.7 percent of the vote. The cleric avoided the need for a run-off by securing more than half of the nearly 37 million votes. Mohammad Baqer-Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran, came in at a distant second with less than 17 percent, followed by Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Gharazi. The interior ministry reported a high turnout of about 73 percent and declared about 1.2 million ballots invalid. The following chart reflects the final results.  












            The following is a  video of the results announcement with English subtitles.

The following video shows Rouhani's supporters celebrating in the streets of Shiraz, a major southwestern city. 




Vote Day News: Khamenei blasts US, Pictures from polls

  • Fars News posts photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei casting the first ballot of the day and saying, “The fate of the country and the prosperity of the nation are dependent on the participation and the people’s selection, and the nation’s votes are trusted in the hands of the election officials.”
  • Mehr News reports former candidate Mohammed Reza Aref predicting that over 70% of the people will vote in the presidential election and that “the election will be stretched to a second round run-off vote.” Mehr News posts a series of photos of former candidate Mohammed Reza Aref who voted early in the morning alongside his wife at the crowded Hosseiniyeh Ershad Mosque, which has symbolic value for Iranian reformists. Aref was asked what candidates should do once the election is over. Aref responded, “They should thank those who worked for alongside them and congratulate the victor.”
  • ISNA posts photos of former president Mohammed Khatami enthusiastically voting today. Photos of Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Ali Akbar Velayati, and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani were all posted as well.   
  • Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani voted at the Imam Askari Mosque in the city of Qom today and afterwards said, “Today Iran is faced with cruel and international pressure, and the power of the participation of the people has given the system double the amount of energy, which will provide fundamental changes to our international situation.” ISNA posted photos of Larijani voting today.
  • The governor of Tehran announced that there will be 12,000 officials supervising the polling stations around the country for the presidential and local city elections.
  • Fars News posts a series of photos of election officials with their security escorts delivering ballot boxes to their respective polling stations. Mehr News posts photos of ballot box distribution as well.
  • ISNA posts photos of the Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic voting today, photos of current candidate Mohammed Gharazi, as well as photos of former candidate Gholam Reza Hadad Adel voting.
  • Fars News posts a set of photos of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi voting today in the city of Qom, as well as photos of the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, voting in a neighborhood near the University of Imam Sadegh in Tehran.
  • ISNA posts six sets of photos of Iranians voting in Tehran. Set one,  Set two, Set three, Set four, Set five, Set six.

Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani at the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars offers the latest news on the 2013 Iranian presidential election, based on a selection of Iranian news sources. Click here for a pdf version.


Latest on the Race: Final Polls – and Shifts

            Iranian elections are highly unpredictable due to the number of candidates and short campaigns. Polls for the 2013 presidential race were initially all over the map. But some polls now indicate that the two leading candidates are Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf. The other four are Mohammad Gharazi, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Akbar Velayati. Not all of the polls conducted in Iran are uniform in methodology. These are sample polls taken during the last two weeks of the campaign by Mehr News Agency in Iran and the U.S.-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions. About 50 million Iranians are eligible to vote on June 14.

IPOS: Rouhani Soars, Voters Begin to Decide

Mehr: Qalibaf Slips


Campaign Posters Capture Rivalries

Garrett Nada

            In flashy campaign art, Iran’s six presidential candidates are pulling at public heartstrings and playing on haunting moments in Iranian history to rally votes. Posters are now plastered across billboards, fences, office blocks and the sides of cars as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus accounts—some of which are actually banned in Iran. Each candidate has his own buzzwords drawing on his past as a war hero, top adviser to the supreme leader, moderate cleric or peace negotiator. 

      Jalili is a war veteran who lost a leg fighting Iraq in the 1980s—and his posters ooze with sacrifice and nationalism. His slogan, “Resistance is the key to success,” draws on imagery from a war that ended a quarter century ago but still influences politics. This poster encourages Iranians to fulfill their national duty to vote while recalling their past duty to defend the country. A hardliner, Jalili has run the most ideological campaign of the six candidates. He is currently secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Jalili accuses other candidates of being too soft on national security issues.
      Qalibaf is a “man of action”― and his posters gush with images of him on the job. Websites and blogs by the “Lovers of Qalibaf” depict the Tehran mayor overseeing the building of bridges, highways and parks to illustrate his slogan: “Jihadi management versus capitalism.” A pragmatic conservative, Qalibaf balances his image as a manager with security credentials. Four pictures on the left are from his days as a Revolutionary Guard on the Iran-Iraq war front.
      Velayati is the ultimate revolutionary insider ― and his posters flaunt his love-fest with Iran’s ruling clerics. His campaign boasts that the supreme leader “is not alone” in confronting Iran’s challenges. In his video, entitled “My Iran, Oh Fatherland,” Velayati cries as he watches old television footage of Iranians wailing and beating their chests after the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. A hardliner, Velayati served as foreign minister from 1989 to 1997 and was then named Khamenei’s chief foreign policy adviser.
      Rouhani is the only cleric in the race—and his campaign pushes an aura of piety. “A man of faith has come,” this poster pledges. The lone reformist candidate has run on a platform to “replace extremism with moderation.” He promises a “government of prudence and hope” that will work with both conservatives and reformists. But Rouhani also has a unique blend of other assets. He was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and the top nuclear negotiator from 1989 to 2005.
      Rezaei is the former Revolutionary Guards Commander—and his posters mix muscle with mystery. Rezaei’s slogan is “social ethics,” and his campaign centers around themes of the “people’s pain,” especially on the economy. On social media, his videos show him meeting with workers and small shopkeepers in outlying provinces. Rezaei has tried to stake out an independent position by criticizing both the reformist and hardliner camps.
      Gharazi is a blunt and outspoken independent ― and his posters exude frustration with Iran’s economic crisis. His slogan is “government against inflation.” Gharazi accuses both reformists and hardline “principlists” of losing control of the economy, claiming that the governments has its “hands in the pocket of the poor” while prices and unemployment increase. Gharazi’s video flaunts his role building the Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s, while his website and Twitter account parade pictures of him as a governor and oil minister.

Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant in the Center for Conflict Management at the United States Institute of Peace.


Online news media are welcome to republish original blog postings from this website in full, with a citation and link back to The Iran Primer website (www.iranprimer.com) as the original source. Any edits must be authorized by the author. Permission to reprint excerpts from The Iran Primer book should be directed to permissions@usip.org


Old War Haunts New Election

By Garrett Nada and Helia Ighani

            A quarter century later, the Iran-Iraq War looms over Iran’s presidential election as if it happened yesterday. All six candidates participated in the grizzliest modern Middle East conflict as fighters, commanders or officials. Over the past month, the campaign has evolved into a feisty competition over who sacrificed and served the most in the eight-year war.
            A leading candidate lost a leg. Another candidate commanded the Revolutionary Guards. A third liberated an oil-rich frontline city. A fourth brokered the dramatic ceasefire.

            During the final debate on June 7, candidates invoked their wartime experience during the “Holy Defense,” as it is officially dubbed in Iran, as a top credential for taking office. It clearly shaped the worldviews of all six, despite their disparate political affiliations as reformists, hardliners or independents.
            But experience during the 1980-1988 war is also emerging as an unspoken credential in facing the future, specifically a confrontation with the outside world over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The debate resonated with language of resistance that echoed from the war, which claimed up to 1 million casualties.
            Iran’s presidential contest illustrates how the war generation is now competing to take over the leadership from the first generation of revolutionaries. Four out of the six candidates were connected to the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military organization. Over the past decade, the Guards have also played an increasing role in the economy and politics. Veterans won nearly a fifth of parliament’s 290 seats in 2004.
            The six candidates had vastly different roles.
      Saeed Jalili, a hardliner who is today Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of Supreme National Security Council, earned the title of “living martyr” when he lost part of his right leg fighting on the front. He served in the Basij paramilitary under the Guards.
      Jalili’s campaign has centered on war imagery and language in his campaign. His slogan — plastered across posters, his website and social media — is “Resistance is the key to success.” A promotional video shows Iranian forces destroying an Iraqi tank during the war. Jalili’s campaign tweeted a picture of himself in a military uniform labeled, “A former soldier, a current diplomat.” His campaign posted a graphic (left) encouraging Iranians to fulfill “today’s” national duty to vote while recalling the past duty to defend the nation.
            He implies the same toughness from his war years will form his foreign policy. “We will not retreat one iota from our basic rights” to nuclear technology, Jalili told supporters on June 3.
            Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, the current mayor of Tehran and another hardliner, has invoked his war experience as much as his eight years running Iran’s largest city. He claims to have played a leading role in recapturing the city of Khorramshahr from Iraqi forces in 1982, a turning point commemorated annually in Iran. He climbed the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards during the war and in 1998 became commander of its air force.
            A posting on his campaign Google Plus profile argued that only “a culture of jihad and martyrdom” can save Iran. He has used his war credentials to reject attempts to label him a technocrat. “I believe that a person is a technocrat [if they have] not seen the color of the front,” he said on June 6.
      Of all the candidates, Mohsen Rezaei (left) arguably played the most high-profile role in the war. He was named chief Revolutionary Guards commander in 1981, a position he held until 1997. An independent, Rezaei regularly cites his military leadership as a qualification for president. In the final debate on June 7, he called for the end of partisan politics, claiming that he engaged with all factions as Revolutionary Guards chief.
      Rezaei’s website features a gallery devoted to pictures of him from the conflict with Iraq. “During the war, I was nearly captured three times. I like to fully examine the enemy before an operation,”Rezaei said.
            Mohammad Gharazi, an independent, helped build the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to support the new theocracy. But it ended up playing the pivotal role in the war. During the war’s early years, Gharazi was governor of southwestern Khuzestan province, where some of the bloodiest battles took place. He also served in various ministerial posts. In the first presidential debate on May 31, he claimed that his generation “carried out a revolution, fought a war, and brought peace.”
            Even Hassan Rouhani — a reformist and the only cleric in the race — has compared his fearlessness on the war front to the presidential race. From 1982 to 1988, he was a member of the Supreme Defense Council. He was named chief of Iran’s air defense in 1985. After the war, he became head of Iran’s National Security Council from 1989 to 2005. Rouhani recently tweeted that he’s “not afraid of anybody in the world,” and that he’s “the same solider who served 8 years in the Iran-Iraq war.”
            Former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, a hardliner, was Iran’s chief diplomat during the war, dealing with repeated peace efforts by the international community. He presided over the negotiations that led to a ceasefire. He now claims that his diplomatic experience makes him the best person to solve Iran’s dispute with the international community over Tehran’s nuclear program. “What we did during the Iran-Iraq War in international diplomacy was much more difficult than nuclear negotiations,” he claimed during the June 7 debate.
            Ironically, negotiating the ceasefire made Velayati vulnerable. In the last debate, Qalibaf accused the former foreign minister of drinking coffee with the French president in Elysee Palace while he and other soldiers were dodging missiles on the front.
            Although the war ended twenty-five years ago, its haunting memories may still impact voters when they go to the polls on Friday. Virtually every family suffered a death or a casualty. Billboards of martyrs along streets of cities across the country keep their memory fresh. Many towns have special cemeteries for “martyrs” in the war and museums to the dead, complete with their bloodied uniforms and letters from the war front. Iran’s youth learn about the “Holy Defense” in school.
            The war also cost Iran dearly in economic terms. It cost Iran approximately $637 billion, according to one estimate. The total damage to the economy was equivalent to 77 percent of the country’s total economic output during those eight years.
            The young Islamic Republic resisted a ceasefire that would cede territory or rights to a strategic waterway, the issue that led to Saddam Hussein’s invasion. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini only grudgingly accepted a U.N.-brokered ceasefire in August 1988. He said ending the war without a clear victory was “more deadly than drinking hemlock.”
            Iranians want to avoid having to drink hemlock — or compromising on principle or sovereignty — again. The candidates, whatever their politics, are playing to that popular sentiment.

Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant in the Center for Conflict Management at the United States Institute of Peace.

Helia Ighani is recent graduate from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Online news media are welcome to republish original blog postings from this website in full, with a citation and link back to The Iran Primer website (www.iranprimer.com) as the original source. Any edits must be authorized by the author. Permission to reprint excerpts from The Iran Primer book should be directed to permissions@usip.org


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