Iran presidential polls; An overview

IRNA – Based on its Constitution, the Islamic Republic of Iran relies on people’s vote and public elections to run the countries affairs.

Top on Iran’s executive body is the President elected by the people’s vote to represent will of the people who have appointed him to the office to run the country for a four-year term.

Similar to those representing people at Iran’s Parliament, Assembly of Experts and the Islamic City and Village Councils, the position of a President in the country based on the religious democracy in the Islamic Republic, is a legitimate one. In fact, the President is elected from amongst religious and political personalities who obtain the majority of votes in a nationwide election.

The President in Iran is the administrator of the government and, based on Article 113 of the Constitution, he considered to be the most senior official in the country next to the Supreme Leader and is responsible for enforcing the Constitution except for issues that are directly under the authority of the Supreme Leader.

The President by taking the oath in Majlis (Iranian Parliament) also pledges to be the protector of the official religion, Islamic Republic, Constitution, borders and territorial integrity, and to uphold the country’s independence and basic rights and freedom of the fellow citizens.

The President, as an official responsible before the nation, the Leader, and members of the Parliament, is obliged to implement parliamentary legislations or achieve the outcome referendums yield after due legal processes.

As the head of the cabinet of ministers, the President by using executive by-laws and other legal authorities in his capacity, formulates policies, plans and coordinates the managerial issues in different governmental organizations, and at the same time take care of the state’s plan and budget and administrative-employment affairs.

Moreover, according to Articles 125-129 of the Constitution, signing conventions, accords, agreements, and deals reached between the government in Iran and other states, as well as inking treaties with international unions after their ratification in the parliament, and appointing special representatives to address different issues, finalizing the appointment of ambassadors, receiving credentials of foreign ambassadors and granting state medals are issues under the authority of the President.

According to the Article 114 of the constitution, the President is elected by people’s direct vote for a period of four years and his reelection is allowed for only one more round.

Article 115 of the Constitution suggests that the President must be elected from amongst religious and political personalities with following qualifications:

Iranian origin, Iranian nationality, administrative capacity and resourcefulness, a good past record, trustworthiness and piety, and convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country.

These are the general qualifications for a Presidential hopeful and it remains with the Guardian Council, which vets the candidates for the elections, to decide who, from among religious and political personalities, are eligible to run for the presidency.

Candidates should officially declare their presidential bid before the election, Article 116 of the Constitution suggests, and it is the law that determines how and when the Presidential elections is going to be held, according to the same Article.

According to the law, the president is elected by the majority of the votes but if in the first round no candidates manage to secure a majority, the runoff for the election will be held on the following Friday.

Only two of the candidates who have obtained the maximum number of votes in the first round will have the chance to go for the runoff, but if one of them gives up, then two of the candidates with the maximum number of votes will be picked from the rest for the runoff.

Electing the new President must take place at least a month before the end of the tenure of the incumbent President and during the transitional period, the incumbent ism in charge of the office.

While the Interior Ministry is in charge of the elections in Iran, including the presidential elections, the Guardian Council oversees the event.

The Interior Ministry is responsible for making all the necessary arrangements and preparations for the presidential election at least five months before the end of the four-year tenure of the incumbent President and in pursuit of Article 119 of the Constitution it should use the mass media to inform the public about the starting day of the candidates’ registration and the time the presidential poll expected to take place.

Ministry of the Interior acts under the supervision of a central executive board consisting of the followings:

1. Minister of the Interior as the director of the board 2.One of the members of parliament’s presiding board (with no right to vote) 3. The country’s Attorney General 4.Minister of Intelligence 5. Seven religious, political, social, and cultural figures to act as the people’s trustees.

During the process of the election, commissions are established such as the one to monitor the presidential campaign to guarantee all the candidates take advantage of the state properties equally.

One of the main features of the presidential election system in the Islamic Republic is that everyone, regardless of his or her age, wealth, gender or occupation, can put his or her name as a presidential candidate and based on the electoral system in Iran, unlike many other democracies, candidates are not required to register at constituencies.

There are specified penalties for violators of the election law regarding the presidential campaign and as far as the funding of the campaigns is concerned, the law prohibits use of the public purse or the state property by the candidates to fund their campaigns.

The voting system and the counting of the votes are still manual and non-electronic in Iran and there is no way of sending votes through post or virtual methods.

Finally, the Guardian Council is in charge of approving the election and the president-elect’s credential as well as taking care of the election complaints.

The presidential election in Iran is held simultaneous with the Islamic City and Village Councils elections.

On April 20, the Guardian Council approved six candidates to run for the presidential election.

The candidates included Raeisi, First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri; Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; former minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mostafa Mirsalim; former Minister of Physical Education Mostafa Hashemi Taba, and President Hassan Rouhani.

However, presidential candidate Mohammd Baqer Qalibaf on Wednesday officially announced his withdrawal from the race in a letter to the Interior Ministry.

Qalibaf said that he quitted the elections in favor of Raeisi. He asked his supporters to vote for the 56-year-old principlist candidate.

Two other candidates, Jahangiri and Hashemi Taba, also announced that they dropped out of the presidential elections in favor of Rouhani but they have not announced their withdrawal officially to the Interior Ministry yet.

The Elections Headquarters announced that according to elections law any candidate wishing to quit presidential campaign should deliver his resignation in writing to the election headquarters and supervisory board.