Lana Ravandi-Fadai: "Presidential elections in Iran unpredictable"

Soon - on May 19 - the Islamic Republic of Iran will hold its presidential election. The senior research fellow of the Department of Near and Middle East at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lana Ravandi-Fadai, told Vestnik Kavkaza about what can be expected from the election campaign and the voting.

 - In your opinion, how predictable are these presidential elections in Iran?

- It is important to remember that no matter how many analysts tried to predict the results of the elections in Iran, they always failed. The presidential elections in Iran are always unpredictable, everything will be decided literally on the last day, depending on who will be approved by the Supervisory Board, because now there are about a thousand registered as potential presidential candidates. Let me remind you that traditionally, a huge number of people in Iran are registered as participants in the elections, it can be the most common person - but it's crucial to be approved by the Supervisory Board.

It is also worth noting that if in large cities, like Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, a significant number of voters form their opinion on candidates themselves, in small settlements people will vote the way they will be told by their imam on Friday. This factor will also affect the voting results.

- In that case, in your estimation, how strong are the positions of President Hassan Rouhani now?

"Since in the United States the Trump administration came to power with the pro-Israel and, as a consequence, anti-Iranian policy, right up to the statements that Iran is the "terrorist state number one", and Hassan Rouhani is a reformer, now he is considered a weak candidate. Tehran is required to find a candidate who will oppose Trump, that is, an ultraconservative. In this regard, Mohsen Rezaee is among the strongest candidates, although he has not said yet that he will run. Despite a small number of votes in previous elections, he has a very good economic program, he is well-known, has leadership experience in high positions, he is supported by IRGC and by the military in general , therefore, he is a fairly weighty figure.

At the same time, I still expect that Rouhani will win, although Iranian citizens are dissatisfied with him. People judge by what happens inside the country, not on its foreign policy successes, so they see that Hassan Rouhani's economic promises made during the election campaign are not coming true, and they do not like what is happening in Iran now. And yet we should expect his re-election, since, by tradition, if a person has become president, he then passes for a second term. Although the tense situation due to Donald Trump's coming to power in the US should not be forgotten.

- How will the western and northwestern regions of Iran vote in the elections?

- They will be guided by the candidates' programs. During the 2013 election campaign Hasan Rukhani provided himself with voices of those regions where ethnic minorities live, due to a pronounced national policy in his program - in particular, he promised to open schools and develop education in the localities in native languages. This greatly helped him in the elections. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also visited these areas before the elections and promised many things - his campaigns were quite populist. That is, the behavior of the west and north-west of Iran will depend on promises of those who will eventually be allowed to participate in the pre-election race.

- In your opinion, is the new Washington really sharply aggressive towards Iran?

"I really hope that Trump is actually bluffing. It is enough to recall his book 'The Art of the Deal' - it describes the tactic of bluffing in detail as a way to get one's way. If this turns out that it was not a bluff, it will lead to very unpleasant consequences, while now there is a certain warming of relations with Europe, especially with Italy, which is actively entering the Iranian market and supporting the Iranian economy.

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