Iran elects a President: what to expect the West and Russia

May 19, in Iran began voting in the presidential elections of the Islamic Republic. Although the first person of the state is not the President and spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the head of Executive power depends, will turn Iran toward greater conservatism or will remain at the current moderate positions. The main candidates — incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and leader of the conservative forces, Ibrahim Raisi. Both proteges of the clergy, but if Rouhani is known as a moderate liberal and one of the creators of the “Iranian nuclear deal”, Raisi threatens to tighten the screws within the country and to revise the warmer relations with the West.

photo: en.wikipedia.org

Usually the President in Iran is ruled by two terms, so Rouhani had a good chance to be reelected. But his energetic and younger competitor Raisi in recent time is gaining popularity and has several advantages. First, he is considered a descendent of the prophet Muhammad (therefore, in contrast to Rouhani wears a black turban). Secondly, rumor has it that he was blessed by Ayatollah Khamenei. Raisi is known that until recently, being a judge in a special Commission, and sentenced the prisoners to death. He also promises to end the “loose morals” in the country to ban all social networks (most of them are already banned) and to introduce more stringent “dress code” for women.

On the prospects of the Iranian elections and the new course the “MK” said a senior researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies Vladimir Sazhin.

“On the eve of the election polls Raisi gained almost the same amount of votes polled, as President Rouhani — said the expert. — Ayatollah Raisi is a person of the Supreme leader, he was his student and still maintains a relationship with him. This is an important factor, because in Iran, even the birds do not fly without the guidance of the Supreme leader. Although Ayatollah Khamenei has never in his speeches did not give anyone preference, but criticizing the policies of President Rouhani, he indirectly supported Raisi. Moreover, conservatives also support such an influential structure as the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps.

Raisi did a great job in rural areas. In Iran, as in any country, on the basis of political views voted for about 20-25% of the population. Others vote out of sympathy, or on the advice of someone. In rural areas the main source of advice is the Mullah. Villagers tend to vote for Islamists, conservatives, in contrast to urban residents and people with a higher education.

As Raisi supports Ayatollah Khamenei, the possibility of certain violations in the voting process, as it was in 2009, when the administrative resource is clearly worked in favour of the then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This caused unrest in Tehran and some major cities, which were suppressed by force. Judging from the Iranian media, the government has considered this option and increased police state in the cities”.

Still, I would give preference to President Rouhani that can win, but by a small margin.

If the President will remain Rouhani, in Iran’s foreign policy will not be significant changes. In relations with the United States, much will depend on the actions of the administration trump and him personally. Of course, anti-Iranian statements and actions of the President of the United States not create a good atmosphere in Iran. Frankly, the part of the Iranian electorate, which is “burdened” by the intellect, belongs to the West quite sympathetic. But politics trump reduces the level of benevolence and gives a trump card in the hands of radical conservatives and Islamists.

As for Russia, of course, Rouhani, who personally knows President Putin will maintain our good relations and may even improve them. But if in 2013, Rouhani won a powerful victory in the first round, this time this, of course, will not, and pressure his opponents will not give him the opportunity to more clearly and openly carry out its policies.

If you win Raisi, it could happen the worst. Will the hard line against the United States and the West. This can lead to the exit of the nuclear agreement. It is likely that Iran’s relations with its neighbors and with the United States is on the brink of war. As for Russia, the first period is likely to continue the policy of Rouhani. Some time will be spent on the acquaintance of presidents, Ministers and business. And then a lull in Russian-Iranian relations can grow either in negative or in positive steps.”

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