Skip to main content

Jalili to Larijani: Key names emerge in Iran's presidential elections

Another hard-liner and a Reformist recently declared their candidacies, and others may soon announce theirs in the election to replace the late President Ebrahim Raisi.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran on March 16, 2015.

A number of potential candidates have emerged in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, possibly setting up a crowded field with the important vote weeks away to succeed late President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran will vote for a new president on June 28. The election was called after Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials were killed when their helicopter crashed into a mountainous area in northwest Iran amid foggy conditions. Raisi’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, was named president following his passing. 

Numerous contenders have emerged as potential successors in the upcoming Iranian presidential election, including several with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. The following is a look at some of the main figures who are expected to run: 

  • Former Supreme National Security Council head Ali Shamkhani has been reported as a potential candidate. Shamkhani served in the position from 2013 until his resignation last year. Considered a centrist, he signed the agreement that resumed relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March of 2023. 
     
  • Former parliament speaker Ali Larijani is  among those considered to be in the running. Larjiani is often described as a moderate and a reformist in comparison with other Iranian conservatives, and served as speaker from 2008 to 2020. He ran and lost in the 2005 election and was disqualified in 2021.
     
  • The now incumbent Mokhber is widely considered a possible candidate. Before becoming first vice president in 2021, he headed the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order, also known as Setad. The organization has been accused of building a massive financial empire for Khameini via property seizures. 
     
  • Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a hard-liner close to Khamenei, is another possible candidate. Notably, he was re-elected as parliament speaker on Tuesday.
     
  • Saeed Jalili, who represents Khamenei on the Supreme National Security Council, declared his candidacy on Sunday. Jalili previously ran in 2013, receiving more than 11% of the vote. He additionally withdrew during the 2021 election and endorsed Raisi.
     
  • Reformist member of parliament Masoud Pezeshkian announced on Sunday he will run for the office. Pezeshkian sought to enter the race in 2021 but his bid was rejected. The London-based Iran International described Pezeshkian on Tuesday as “one of the few tolerated reformists.” He served as health minister from 2001 to 2005 under then President Mohammad Khatami.

Other candidates: On Sunday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer Parviz Fattah, Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani and Roads Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash are likely to run. 

A day later, the outlet reported that former Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli could run in the election. Mahsouli served in the position from 2008 to 2009 under Ahmadinejad.

Several familiar faces may reportedly enter the race, including former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and former presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani.

Another possible candidate is Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi, who served as communications minister under Rouhani from 2017 to 2021, according to Iran International. 

All presidential candidates must be approved by the Khamenei-controlled Guardian Council.

Know more: Relations with the United States may be a defining issue for the next Iranian president, particularly with the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House, Ali Hashem reported for Al-Monitor from Tehran last week.