Presidential candidate Mohammad Qalibaf is predicted to score well in voting in Iran’s big cities. The current Mayor of Tehran has done a lot for the capital – its road systems, parks, public transport and improving communities on the outskirts. His popularity is high.
He ran for president in 2005, when he was just starting out in politics. He had just got out of military uniform, that he’d worn since he was 18, when he went to fight in Iran’s war against Iraq.
But it was the Mayor of Tehran at the time who won: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Qalibaf, who ran as an independent, came in fourth. He hopes now that he’s paid his dues in the voters’ eyes.
Qalibaf’s reputation then wasn’t good. He became a general quite young, which meant he was put in charge of the crackdown on student unrest in 1999. The year after that, the Supreme Leader appointed him chief of police, a post he held till 2004. He reformed the force on the one hand, while arresting intellectuals on the other.
When his bid for the presidency failed in 2005, he consoled himself by running Tehran instead, and Ahmadinejad criticised what he did, the friction between them regularly covered in the media. Recently, Qalibaf has courted both moderate conservatives and reformers.
He has based his campaign mostly on economic themes. He has repeatedly stressed his own modest origins, and promised the poor he would create jobs and bring down inflation. But he hasn’t ignored the middle class, either in cities or in rural areas.
He has stayed away from discussing the nuclear programme but has constantly criticised the Ahmadinejad administration’s foreign policy.
The 51-year-old has a Ph.D. in political geography and is also a former Islamic Republic Air Force commander.