Latest on the Race: Rival Conservative Coalitions

Garrett Nada

            In Iran, conservative candidates come in many shades. The presidential race has already produced two new coalitions among the Islamic Republic’s many hardline factions. The goal is to consolidate the political clout of individual candidates two months before the June election.
            The first coalition brings together three prominent principlists (fundamentalists). They intend to hold a public opinion poll to determine which of the three to formally nominate. Formed in January, it is called the “2+1” coalition. It includes:
            •Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader’s chief foreign policy adviser
            •Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, a member of parliament
            •Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran
            The second coalition brings together five principlist candidates, none of whom are political heavyweights. They plan to pick one of their leaders to contest the election to avoid splitting the vote. Formed in April, the coalition is called the Followers of the Imam’s Line and Leadership Front. [Imam Ruhollah Khomeini led the 1979 revolution.] It includes:
            •Manouchehr Mottaki, a former foreign minister
            •Mohammad Reza Bahonar, a deputy speaker of parliament
            •Yahya Al-e Eshaq, chairman of Tehran Chamber of Commerce
            •Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, a deputy speaker of parliament
            •Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the head of the General Inspection Organization.
The Followers Coalition
            Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, born in the early 1950s, is a cleric and the vice-speaker of Iran’s parliament. He claims to have support of people from the Combatant Clergy Association and the Qom Seminary, according to parliament’s news agency.
            Yahya Al-e Eshaq, is the current chairman of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture. Al-e Eshaq, a commerce minister during Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s presidency in the 1990s, has a background in industrial management.
            Mohammad Reza Bahonar, born in 1952, is the deputy speaker of parliament and brother of former Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar, who was assassinated in 1981. Bahonar is an experienced politician and has served in seven different parliaments. He is currently serving as deputy speaker for the third time.
            Bahonar is also the secretary general and a founding member of the Islamic Society of Engineers. He is an outspoken critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and an ally of Ali Larijani.
            Manouchehr Mottaki, born in 1953,served as foreign minister for five years until President Ahmadinejad dismissed him in December 2010. He is an ally of Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larjiani —Ahmadinejad’s rival and another potential presidential candidate. 
            Mottaki was elected to Iran’s first parliament after the 1979 revolution. But he spent the majority of his career in the foreign ministry as an ambassador or minister. Mottaki speaks English, Turkish, Urdu and Farsi.
            Mostafa Pourmohammadi, born in 1960, is a mid-ranking cleric and was interior minister during Ahmadinejad’s first term. He currently heads the General Inspection Organization, which supervises use of government funds. Pourmohammadi has criticized Ahmadinejad’s economic reform plan, especially subsidy removal.
            Pourmohammadi was also the deputy minister of intelligence for international affairs under Ali Fallahian in the 1990s. Fallahian declared his candidacy for president in February as an independent.
The “2+1” Coalition
            Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, born to a business family in 1945, is a member of parliament from Tehran. He served as parliament’s speaker from 2005 to 2008. Haddad-Adel is reportedly a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His daughter is married to the Khamenei’s son.
            Haddad-Adel has advanced degrees in physics and philosophy. He wrote many of Iran’s middle and high school textbooks on religion and social studies while.
            Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, born in 1961, has been the mayor of Tehran since 2005. Son of a dried-fruit seller, he served in the Revolutionary Guards and rose to high ranks during and after the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. He became the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ air force and was chief of the Law Enforcement Force from 2000 to 2005. Qalibaf received less than 14 percent of the vote in the 2005 presidential election against Ahmadinejad.
            Ali Akbar Velayati, born in 1945, is the supreme leader’s principal foreign policy adviser. He served as foreign minister under Khamenei and Rafsanjani from 1981 to 1997. Velayati serves on the Expediency Discernment Council, which resolves disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council. In 2005, he ran for president but later withdrew and supported Rafsanjani instead.
            In early April, Velayati said that the coalition would not consider an alliance with any other principlist group. He claimed that the “2+1” coalition would form the most powerful government in decades, according to Press TV.  
            Other conservative candidates have yet to join coalitions. More than twenty principlists, reformists and independent politicians have declared their candidacy or expressed interest in running. They include:
            •Ali Fallahian, a conservative member of the Assembly of Experts and a former intelligence
            •Mohsen Rezaie, a conservative and former chief of the Revolutionary Guards
            •Hassan Rouhani, a conservative and a senior Expediency Council member, also a former
              head of the Supreme National Security Council and the former lead nuclear negotiator
            •Mostafa Kavakebian, the reformist secretary general of the Democracy Party and former
              member of parliament
            •Mohammad Shariatmadari, a former minister of commerce and a member of the Strategic
              Council for Foreign Relations
Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant at USIP in the Center for Conflict Management.
Past election updates:

Appeals to Khatami to Run

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