Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 17, 2017

Analysis of Ahmadinejad's campaign for Iran's presidency

The newspaper identifies Amanda Erickson as someone who "writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post." Here is her analysis.

What Ahmadinejad’s run says about the state of Iranian politics
As “stunned” onlookers watched, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered to run — once again — for president. In doing so, he defied the country’s supreme leader, who told him not to compete…

The former president’s surprising decision to run adds even more uncertainty to the upcoming election. It’s widely seen as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear deal…

That agreement was negotiated and signed by the current president, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate most people think will seek reelection… He had a background in nuclear negotiations, and swept into office preaching moderation and compromise…

Rouhani has also pushed the country in a more moderate direction. He has said that he believes Iranians should have freedom to worship and he tweeted a photo of a female award-winning mathematician without her headscarf…

On that front, few politicians offer a starker contrast than Ahmadinejad. As president, he frequently attacked the West. He has called the Holocaust “a myth” and “a lie.” In 2005, he banned Western music from the radio. A year later, he blocked several major websites, including YouTube, in an effort to purge the country of Western influences.

And he could be a serious contender. The high-profile politician remains popular in some corners of Iran…

But there are pitfalls, too. Ahmadinejad is despised by moderates. He’ll have to defend his poor economic record — during his two terms, the country’s economy tanked… And even some conservatives want him out of the race. According to the BBC, some of the country’s most prominent hard-liners have called Ahmadinejad’s decision “unacceptable” and say “will spell the end of his political career.”

If he runs, Rouhani is favored to win. No president has ever lost reelection in Iran, and Rouhani has the support of reformists and moderates, a fragile but essential coalition…

At the end of April, the country’s Guardian Council will vet the candidates. The council has the power to block candidates from competing, and it has kept reformists and independents out of parliamentary and presidential elections in the past. This year, though, the council might do the opposite, keeping one of the country’s most conservative politicians out of the race for president…

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