With less than one month to go until its presidential election, Iran is gearing up for a political showdown.
Incumbent pragmatist Hassan Rouhani is seeking a second term against hardline rivals and is seen as having a big chance.
Iran’s Supreme Leader holds ultimate authority, but the vote will influence the image and policies of the Islamic Republic.
Here’s our look at the main candidates to watch.
Hassan Rouhani is among six candidates cleared to run. A mid-ranking Shi’ite Muslim cleric, he came to power with a landslide victory in 2013 – promising to end Iran’s international isolation and to create a freer society.
He has championed a nuclear deal that ended a stand-off with the West – and led to many sanctions being lifted in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.
But hardline rivals say he’s failed to revive the economy.
Another key election candidate is Ebrahim Raisi. A close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he’s viewed as the main hardline candidate challenging Rouhani.
He has been a senior official for decades in the judiciary, which enforces clerical control of the country.
Law professor Raisi has been critical of Rouhani’s economic record and portrays himself as a champion of the poor.
He was appointed last year as the custodian of an organisation in charge of a multi-billion-euro religious foundation.
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf
Another one to watch is former police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
Viewed as a pragmatic conservative, he’s been the mayor of Tehran since 2005.
He has also criticised Rouhani’s economic policy – and has promised to more than double Iran’s income and tackle unemployment by creating five million jobs.
Eshaq Jahangiri is Iran’s first vice president.
The moderate says he decided to run in the election to “stand by Rouhani and complement him.” There had been concerns that the incumbent might be disqualified.
Jahangiri is expected to drop out to avoid a split in the moderate camp’s votes.
Other election facts
- The vote happens on 19 May
- If no candidate wins at least 50 percent, plus one vote of all ballots cast, there will be a run-off between the top two candidates on the first Friday after the election results.