Regime Hardliner Raisi To Make Bid For Iranian Presidency

(New York, N.Y.) – Conservative hardline cleric and judiciary chief Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi has declared his candidacy for the Iranian presidency. Raisi is widely seen as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s preferred heir apparent. Other prominent members of Khamenei and Raisi’s extremist faction, such as Speaker of the Parliament Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, were dissuaded from running to ensure hardline consolidation behind Raisi. 

Raisi’s candidacy underscores the illegitimacy of the Iranian elections, as only candidates with extreme views favored by Khamenei are permitted to run. Out of roughly 590 candidates who have registered, only a tiny fraction will pass the vetting of the conservative dominated Guardian Council. Those who are permitted to stand for election, even so-called regime “moderates”, as current President Hassan Rouhani has been dubbed, must above all be fiercely loyal to upholding the principles of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Even under the “moderate” leadership of Rouhani, Iran continued to advance its nuclear program, commit human rights abuses, undertake regional destabilizing activities, attack U.S. military personnel and sponsor terrorism. At the end of the day, Iran’s president is powerless to move Iran off its confrontational course, as all consequential decision-making is the sole purview of the Supreme Leader.

Raisi’s rise has been largely engineered by Khamenei, his former teacher, due to his tenure as a loyal footsoldier both to Khamenei personally and to the Islamic Revolution. Raisi was among the panel of judges who imposed death penalties on thousands of political prisoners in 1988, demonstrating his willingness to kill and commit wanton human rights abuses to uphold the Iranian regime. After a career in the judiciary, Khamenei granted Raisi a plum post as head of a massive charity before appointing him as Chief Justice of Iran’s judicial system in 2019. Raisi lacks a natural constituency among the Iranian population, but may be buoyed in next month’s election by suppressed turnout, as Rouani’s failure to deliver promised reforms has alienated many citizens from continued participation in Iran’s rigged system.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s resource, Ebrahim Raisi: Chief Justice Of Iran, highlights Raisi’s career in leading Iran’s judicial system and potential next steps for Raisi’s political future. His ascendance can be explained by three factors: promotion by Khamenei, an influential family network, and a knack for leveraging state positions to feed his ambition.

In recent years, Raisi has emerged as a leading candidate to succeed Khamenei. UANI’s resource, Who Will Be Iran’s Next Supreme Leader, outlines each of the potential successor candidates and categorizes the possibilities for new leadership over the Islamic Republic of Iran. June’s election will be decisive in terms of charting Iran’s future course due to the advanced age and failing health of 82 year-old Khamenei.

To read UANI’s resource, Ebrahim Raisi: Chief Justice Of Iran, please click here.

To read UANI’s resource, The Myth of Moderation, please click here.

To read UANI’s resource, Who Will Be Iran’s Next Supreme Leader, please click here.