TEHRAN, Iran — Iran named seven candidates Tuesday for its June 18 presidential election, approving the candidacy of the hard-line cleric running the country's judiciary while barring a former parliament speaker allied to the country's current president.
The decision by Iran's Guardian Council puts judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, who ran against President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, in a dominant position for the upcoming vote. He's the most-known candidate of the seven hopefuls, with opinion polling previously showing his anti-corruption campaign drew Iranian support.
The announcement on state television didn't discuss the fact that former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who allied with Rouhani in recent years, had been barred. Larijani had been positioning himself as a pragmatic candidate who would back Rouhani's signature 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. That accord is now in tatters as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate a return of both Iran and the U.S. to the agreement.
Also barred was former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Rouhani's senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist. Ahmadinejad ignored a warning from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017 and registered, only to be rejected then as well by the Guardian Council.
During an earlier session of parliament Tuesday, lawmaker Ahmad Alirezabeigi described Ahmadinejad's home as being "under siege" by security forces since the day before. He also warned that the decision would suppress turnout. Iran's theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution has based its legitimacy in part on turnout in elections.
State TV earlier quoted Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman of the Guardian Council, as saying "only seven" had been approved out of some 590 who registered by the panel of clerics and jurists overseen by Khamenei. In 2017, 1,630 hopefuls registered to run.