London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Lack of consensus between “principalist” candidates Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Saeed Jalili may lead to defeat in today’s presidential elections, Iran’s hard-line conservative voters have warned.
Many hard-line principalists had expected either Qalibaf or Velayati to withdraw in favor of Jalili in order to concentrate the votes of the principalist camp. Prior to Saeed Jalili’s nomination, the 2+1 coalition between Qalibaf, Velayati, and Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel was predicated on producing a single candidate.
Jalili’s arrival in the race changed the equation and the gradual consensus building of the principalist camp. Although Haddad-Adel announced his withdrawal to boost principalist unity, his predicted share of the vote is not expected to have the requisite impact.
Both Qalibaf and Velayati have managed to successfully reach out to potential voters. Qalibaf, for example, set up a very well-organized nationwide campaign to cover all provinces and cities relying on his war-time credentials, in addition to his track record of modernizing Tehran.
Although Qalibaf is a staunch principalist and has proven his capability and loyalty, his tough managerial style and pragmatism has failed to appeal to the core radical segments of the principalists.
Velayati, on the other hand, has managed to make his case through the traditional conservatives and merchants. A number of well-established and well-known conservative parties and groups are known to support him.
Independent candidate Mohsen Rezaie also seems to have built his support-base across urban and rural areas.
Many predicted that Qalibaf, Velayati, and Jalili would consider uniting behind a single candidate in the final days before the election in order to present the principalist camp with a front-runner. However the three principalist candidates failed to come to an agreement and each remains in the run on polling day.
The editorial of Iran’s Kayhan daily newspaper criticized the ego of the three candidates and their refusal to step aside, potentially throwing away the election by fragmenting the principalist vote.
“When principalist candidates regard their personal esteem higher than the principalist discourse they belong to, then they inevitably split the powerful river to fragmented creeks providing the reformists an opportunity to jump over,” said Kayhan editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari.
Seyed Soulat Mortazavi, head of the interior ministry’s election operation, confirmed that representatives of the presidential candidates will be allowed to be present at any polling station across the country as is their legal right.
He also estimated that approximately 1 million individuals are involved in conducting the election across the country. Speaking to Iranian State TV, Soulati promised a quick and highly accurate vote count. In the event of no candidate securing 50% of the vote, an election run-off will be held on Friday, June 21.