Sunday, January 02, 2005
Iran has now set June 17 as the date for its upcoming Presidential elections. The big question hanging over them is whether former President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani will toss his hat into the ring, which is starting to sound likely as both hardliners and moderates, as well as some reformists, rush to support him. Many expect the reformists, who are still scrambling to find a candidate, to lose power with this election, as the Council of Guardians has not been shy about tossing them off the ballot. This RFE-RL Iran Report gives a good overview of the current state of play at this critical moment in Iran's political development. Observers should bear in mind, however, that if Iran is becoming essentially a kleptocracy as some have suggested, a figure from within the system who advocates social reforms while looking the other way at economic issues might have the best chance at pushing through peaceful change, even if most civil disturbances in Iran are economic in origin.