Ahmadinejad's election bid further strengthens Iran's hardliners

13 April 2017

Projects worth billions of dollars hinge on the outcome

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has filed a nomination to run in the upcoming elections, marking a turnaround from his earlier promise not to contest.

“The leader advised me not to participate in the elections, and I accepted. His advice, however, shouldn’t be taken to mean that I’m banned,” he told reporters after submitting his candidature.

The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had in September 2016 advised Ahmadinejad, who held office from 2005 to 2013, not to contest in the 19 May elections.

Ahmadinejad became infamous during his presidency for his widely criticised comments calling for the destruction of Israel and for his denial of the Jewish Holocaust. It was during his tenure that nuclear-related sanctions were imposed on Iran, effectively cutting off the economy from engaging with the rest of the world.

He was also widely resented at home, particularly by Iranian youth for strengthening hardliners and instituting religious scholars to head universities.

Current Iranian President Hasan Rouhani with his moderate stance towards engagement with western countries and opening up the country’s economy, had been the longstanding favourite to win the elections. However the appointment of US President Donald Trump, who opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in his election campaign, has cast doubts on Rouhani’s re-election as hardliners seek to adopt a more confrontational approach to the US.

Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi also put his name forward in the race last week saying it was his “religious and revolutionary responsibility” to run for president. Four other candidates have been nominated by Iran’s hardliners to contest next month. The death of Iran’s reform-minded revolutionary cleric-turned-president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani leaves Rouhani as one of the few voices of moderation within Iranian body politic.

Iran’s Guardian Council vets nominations and could likely block Rouhani’s and Ahmadinejad’s bids later this month.

Ahmadinejad, who kept a low profile after his presidency joined Twitter earlier this year, tweeting video messages in English in an attempt to offer a softer image to the international community as well as voters at home that he had left behind the firebrand rhetoric employed during his presidency.

The outcome of the election will set the pace for Iran’s attempts to develop its economy, particularly its ageing energy infrastructure after years of sanctions.

Foreign oil companies, which were pre-qualified in January 2017 to bid on tendered oil and gas blocks, have yet to be provided with the Iran Petroleum Contract. According to the energy minister the new contract model is still under review. A more hardline outcome will deter investment into Iran and would stall billions of dollars’ worth of projects in the pipeline.

Emerging markets iran report front cover march 2017

Emerging Markets: Iran 2017 is available now. Click here to find out more

There is no doubting the huge potential for business in Iran. But, one year on from the lifting of international nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic, it is still a difficult place for international companies to do business.

Emerging Markets: Iran 2017 provides a comprehensive snapshot of all the latest developments in Iran.

The 250-page report looks at Tehran’s drive to attract investment in its oil, gas, industrial and civil infrsatructure sectors.

Emerging Markets: Iran 2017

  •     Gain an immediate insight on the emerging Iran projects market
  •     Set business strategies for entering and growing in the Iran market
  •     Discover the priority areas for investment and proposed projects
  •     Identify opportunity and mitigate risk
  •     Save time and investment on research and analysis

Emerging Markets: Iran 2017 is available now. Click here to find out more

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current MEED.com package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications