Skip to main content

Iran's Reformists asked to put forward presidential candidate

Former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has called on Reformists to pick a candidate. 
Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi hold posters of him during an election campaign rally in the capital, Tehran, on June 10, 2021.

Mehdi Karroubi, the 2009 presidential candidate who was put under house arrest for challenging the result of those elections, has urged Iranians to vote despite the shortcomings of the election process.

According to his son Hossein, Karroubi said this year’s disqualifications were “unprecedented.” Well-known moderate candidates such as Ali Larijani and Eshaq Jahangiri and former conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were all disqualified from running for the presidency.

Karroubi believes a minority faction within the establishment who lack popular support are “trying to eliminate any remnant of a republic from the political system.” It is no secret at this point that a powerful group is pushing the candidacy of current Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi. According to Karroubi, this small group is counting on a small turnout to get the election result they desire.

Karroubi understood there are those who have chosen not to participate because the current election process has been a “national humiliation.” However, he has encouraged the Reformist groups in the country to pick a candidate. Reformists have not formally endorsed any candidate, and they have repeatedly said all of their candidates have been disqualified from running.

Despite the public statements that Reformists do not have a candidate, there is speculation that Reformists are endorsing moderate candidate and former head of the Central Bank Abdolnaser Hemmati. Hossein Marashi, spokesperson for the Reformist party the Executives of Construction Party of Iran said during an April 30 interview that Reformists would introduce “secret candidates” in the final minutes before the election. He explained that the criteria for a secret candidate would be that they can pass the Guardian Council, attract popularity and manage the country competently. According to Khabar Online, Marashi said Hemmati was a secret candidate.

While Reformists search for a candidate, conservatives are making calls to unite. Of the seven candidates permitted to run in the election, five of them are conservatives. Alireza Zakani, one of the conservative candidates, said on June 13 the five candidates should “move to converge.” He did not explain which candidates should step aside and which should remain. He warned that too many conservatives would result in what happened during the 2013 presidential election in which they divided the conservative vote, paving the way for Hassan Rouhani's election.

Zakani was not the only person to speak up for the need to unite conservatives. Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of influential conservative Kayhan newspaper, wrote about the need for conservative candidates to step aside in favor of one conservative candidate. He warned that a failure to do so “would be a tragedy” and “a heavy blow” to the Islamic Republic. According to Shariatmadari, conservatives should see who is ahead in the polls and decide to unite behind that candidate. Some conservative candidates, such as Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, have rejected his call and said they have a religious duty to go all the way through.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial