On Feb. 20, former Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei announced his intention to run in the country’s May 19 presidential election amid efforts among conservatives to reach a consensus over a single nominee. As such, Baghaei, who served as deputy to former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is now, in effect, the representative of Ahmadinejad’s circle in the upcoming elections.
Ahmadinejad, who reportedly sought to run for office once again, was publicly “advised” by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei not to seek the presidency again due to concerns about a repetition of the widespread unrest that followed Ahmadinejad's re-election in 2009. That vote eight years ago saw tense competition between opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who are now under house arrest, and Ahmadinejad. Mousavi and Karroubi objected to the results, saying the balloting was rigged.