Iran’s radical hardliners may secure the presidency in the country’s upcoming elections, a new poll finds.
More than 40 percent of respondents said the current incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani, is “somewhat likely” to lose the May 19 election, while 14 percent said he was “very likely” to lose. The numbers suggest Rouhani, who was ushered into office on promises to reinvigorate the economy, will lose to a more hardline candidate who may prove more palatable to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Most of the 1,005 “representative Iranians” surveyed by the Toronto-based company IranPoll had a favorable view of Rouhani, but his inability to stimulate the economy after the signing of the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015 appears to have sowed doubt as to his ability to run the country. Rouhani has also fallen out of favor with Khamenei due to his inability to fix the economy. The Supreme Leader, who is elected for life, holds the ultimate political power in Iran.
Rouhani has spent the remaining weeks ahead of the election touting his economic policies and the massive reduction in inflation he oversaw over the last four years. He campaigned as a relative moderate in his first election, however, the term is a misnomer considering Iran’s ultra-conservative Guardian Council often purges true moderates from elections.
The Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was expected to remove international sanctions and create economic growth. Rouhani and his supporters banked on the deal improving Iran’s economy, but non-nuclear related sanctions and have remained. Those that were removed were apparently not enough to raise the standard of living to the expected level.
Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced Thursday that he plans to run in the upcoming election. Ahmadinejad was a favorite among hardliners for his fiery rhetoric and hawkish policies toward the West. He also oversaw an expansion of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
While the former president is not expected to win, his entrance into the race could draw support to other hardline candidates.
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