With just over a month to go until the Iranian Presidential election the election process is heating up.  475 people have registered as official candidates, including 42 women.  Here are two of the most interesting contenders:

  • Rafat Bayat is the most well-known women to have submitted her candidacy.  She is a former member of the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament who had attempted to run in the last presidential election in 2005.  She has been a critic of the Ahmadinejahd administration’s economic policies and has stated that if elected her first deputy will be a woman.
  • Koresh Mouzuni is believed to be the youngest candidate at twelve years old.  He appears to be a fan of current president Mahmood Ahmadinejahd and has said that if elected he will appoint him as his first deputy.  When asked about his stance towards Israel he answered, “I will buy Hawaii, Obama’s birthplace, from the United States and lease it to Israelis who will go live there – so that they don’t kill the children in Gaza.”  So does this mean that he supports talks with America without preconditions?

The Guardian Council will take the list of 475 potential candidates and narrow it down it a handful of top contenders, with the announcement of their selections expected to come on May 22nd.  The top candidates are expected to include two conservatives: incumbent President Mahmood Ahmadinejahd and former head of the Revolutionary Guard Mohsen Rezai, and two reformists: former speaker of Parliament Mehdi Karroubi and former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Rezai, Karroubi, Mousavi have each criticized Ahmadinejahd’s administration, especially his handling of the economy.  Fellow conservative Mohsen Rezai has said that Ahmadinejahd “would drag the country over a cliff” if reelected, while Mehdi Karroubi has declared Ahmadinejahd’s statements about Israel to be undermining Iran’s international credibility.

It will be interesting to see whether or not having two candidates from each the reformist and the conservative camps will play out.  Will one reformist candidate drop out of the race in order to avoid splitting the reformist vote?  Rezai has said that he will work with reformers- will he make a deal to form a coalition government?  Will the Guardian Council disqualify any of these candidates in an effort to support Ahmadinejahd?  We’ll have to wait to find out.