Skip to main content

Iran's dark horse candidate for president

Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi is attempting to project a nonpartisan image while adopting stronger positions against incumbent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
TOPSHOT - Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi attend a campaign rally in the capital Tehran on April 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

TEHRAN, Iran — Until just a few months ago, not many Iranians were familiar with the name Ebrahim Raisi. The 56-year-old cleric entered the game last year when he was appointed to head Iran’s largest charitable foundation, Astan Quds Razavi, which oversees the holy shrine of the eighth Shiite imam, Reza, in the northeastern city of Mashhad. Raisi, a former prosecutor and deputy chief justice who once headed Iran’s anti-corruption committee, wants to be the Islamic Republic’s 12th president. Generally labeled as a Principlist, Raisi “wants to free himself from any partisan affiliation and run as an independent,” according to an aide who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

In Iran, the color green is widely associated with the Green Movement, which emerged from the disputed 2009 presidential elections. Raisi chose green as his campaign color. The source close to the presidential candidate explained, “This is the color used by revolutionary grandsons of the prophet. We are using this color to give it back its real meaning.” The source added that Raisi is looking forward to becoming president of all Iranians rather than a president with partisan affiliations. “One of the main objectives will be freedom of partisan life under the framework of the Islamic Republic. There’s a need to get the viewpoints of all parties and currents in the country to solve our problems, yet differences among them shouldn’t have implications for how we solve our dilemmas.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.