Iran’s Heavyweights Waiting for March Elections

A033411027.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Several of Iran’s political heavyweights, including ex-nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, are among more than 7,000 hopefuls who have signed up to stand in March parliamentary elections, officials said on Saturday.

The March 14 elections will see reformists seek to revive their previous dominance over parliament, and the presence of high-profile candidates is an indication of the importance of the polls.

According to an interior ministry statement, 7,168 candidates – including 585 women – had registered to stand before the deadline passed on Friday.

In order to be eligible, the candidates have to be approved by the vetting body the Guardians Council.

Conservatives and moderates have formed broad coalitions to contest the elections, in a bid to avoid the splits that have harmed the chances of both sides in previous ballots.

Other conservatives joining Larijani in standing for election include parliament speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, former intelligence minister Ali Falahian and deputy speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar.

Reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami have formed a coalition with pragmatic conservative allies of another ex-president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Khatami, said to be the coalition’s guiding force, is not standing but those registered include former vice president Mohammad Reza Aref, former transport minister Ali Khoram and former industry minister Eshagh Jahanguiri.

Larijani, a conservative with pragmatic tendencies, has remained an influential figure even after his resignation, and still sits on Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) as the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Haddad Adel, an academic by profession, is another powerful conservative.

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