Al-Monitor |Rohollah Faghihi: The two main conservative candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Hassan Rouhani in the May 19 presidential vote are Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Despite their claims of unity ahead of the elections, a closer look indicates that the conservatives are deeply divided.
Ghalibaf, the Tehran mayor who has now registered to run in three presidential elections, looks determined to stay in the race to the very end, mindful that a third-time defeat or withdrawal would lead to a further decline in his reputation. On the other hand, now that Raisi, the custodian of the holy shrine of the eighth Shiite imam, has risked his future political career and reputation by stepping into the fray, he is also not likely to pull out in favor of a starkly different figure such as Ghalibaf.
On April 6, the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces, which is known by its Persian acronym JAMNA, held a primary in which five contenders were elected. Raisi obtained the majority of votes in the primary of the conservative coalition, while Ghalibaf came in third.
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