By a correspondent in Tehran, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Is BBC Persian Meddling in Iranian Elections?
In the coming days, Iran will be holding elections for its Assembly of Experts, and as such, every side is maneuvering to gain as many votes as possible. The main race is between the camps of moderate Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and that of ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.
President Hassan Rouhani, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and highly respected Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini are among the most prominent figures on Rafsanjani’s 16-person ticket (known as People’s Experts). Hassan Khomeini — who was disqualified from running in the elections and is also the grandson of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — appears on the campaign posters for Rafsanjani’s ticket. Khomeini has voiced tacit support for the moderate ticket, saying, “We should vote for those who don’t close their eyes to oppression.”
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the spiritual leader of the hard-line Endurance Front, incumbent Assembly of Experts chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, interim Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami and Mashhad Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda are the most prominent faces on Jannati’s ticket.
Rafsanjani’s list has come under serious attack by hard-liners after calls emerged on social media networks for people to take part in the elections to thwart the entry of the hard-liners from the Assembly of Experts.
The Tehran voting district accounts for 16 of the assembly’s 88 seats, and as such, Ayatollah Rafsanjani has repeatedly urged people and his supporters to vote not only for him but for all of his 16-person ticket. If this occurs, Jannati and the four abovementioned hard-liners will for the first time not be able to enter the assembly. This prospect has caused serious anxiety among the hard-liners, prompting them to look for ways to counter it.