Thursday, 13 December 2012

Iran Snap Analysis: Speculating about the Next President

Supreme Leader & Ali LarijaniIn recent weeks, we have closely watched Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani's travels, primarily for what they signal about Iranian foreign policy. We have kept an eye on his manoeuvres on the domestic front, assessing what they mean in the ongoing political fight with President Ahmadinejad. However, I have also allowed myself the speculation --- and it is only speculation --- that Larijani is "bigging himself up" for a run for the Presidency next June.

Ladane Nasseri of Bloomberg runs with that speculation in an article for Bloomberg, "Iranian Bickering Leaves Loyal Larijanis at Front in Power RaceIranian Bickering Leaves Loyal Larijanis at Front in Power Race":

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s loss of favor with the country’s ruling elite may turn into a gain for Ali Larijani.

The parliament leader, one of five brothers who have all served in public office, is increasing his influence ahead of elections in June amid the most turbulent time in Iranian politics since Ahmadinejad faced down street protests in 2009. While Larijani hasn’t yet declared whether he will run for the presidency, the heart of his family’s power is unwavering allegiance to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The article is valuable for its overview on Larijani and his brothers, head of judiciary Sadegh and senior judiciary official Mohammad Javad, and the political and economic situation. It also has this telling passage, drawn from analyst Farideh Farhi: 

Though it’s still “too soon to predict,” Farhi said, Larijani is unlikely to run if Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf or Khamenei’s foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, do “since he would be competing with them over similar constituencies,” she said.

But at the end of this day, and indeed this year, these are still well-expressed musings, which may or may not come to pass. That is tipped off  by Nasseri's concluding paragraphs, quoting analyst Karim Sadjadpour:

Larijani’s participation may also be subject to the Supreme Leader’s endorsement. In the 2009 race, it was Khamenei’s backing that allowed Ahmadinejad to secure a second term in the face of widespread street protests over alleged voting fraud.

“The most important vote in Iran’s presidential election is that of Ayatollah Khamenei,” Sadjadpour said. “The question is whether Khamenei would trust Ali Larijani to be his loyal subordinate, or whether he suspects he’s too ambitious, like Ahmadinejad proved to be.”

And the Supreme Leader and his office, weighing all the political possibilities and pitfalls, do not cast that vote until late in the jousting for the Presidency and the ballot in June. As analyst Essikhan Sadeghi Boroujerdi summarises, echoing one of our top EA correspondents, "Everything on presidential election is pretty much speculation, rumour, and hearsay till March."

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

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