Rouhani in Semnan Province

Can Iran hard-liners make Rouhani a one-term president?

Rouhani’s opponents – who see him as a threat to many of their interests – are targeting a struggling economy and the nuclear deal in bid to unseat him in 2017.

It’s a familiar political story: The presidential hopeful billed as the candidate of “prudence and hope” is facing withering criticism. His toughest opponents fear their longstanding grip on key power centers is waning irrevocably. They attack him harshly for failing to deliver on the economy and foreign policy – all in a bid to make him that most embarrassing of phenomena: a one-term president.

Iran’s election may not be for another eight months, but hard-line opponents of President Hassan Rouhani have already marshaled powerful tools to unseat him. They’re banking on a convergence of two key factors: public dismay over unrealized hopes for economic progress after the landmark nuclear deal, and their own desire for unity to ensure that a man they see as dangerously opening up Iran to the US and the West won’t remain in office.

But how far can Rouhani’s conservative rivals go to defeat him, using cash and hard-line media to amplify their already loud voices; and how big a challenge do they really pose?