Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi arrives to register his candidacy for presidential race at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Iran, May 15, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

TEHRAN – Iran’s presidential election campaign has officially gotten underway after the country’s Interior Ministry announced the names of the qualified candidates for the country’s 13th presidential race on Tuesday.

Following an eight-day vetting process, Iran’s Constitutional Council, which supervises elections, selected seven out of 592 hopefuls, giving them the green light to begin campaigns for the June 18 presidential election voting day.

The list comprises Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, lawmaker Alireza Zakani, Deputy Parliament Speaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati and former Vice President Mohsen Mehralizadeh.

Some of the heavyweights failed to make their way to the final list, including First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

Of the candidates, Raisi, Jalili, Mehralizadeh and Rezaei have run for president in previous elections.

Raisi, who has been Iran’s judiciary chief since 2019, has said he would be contesting the race “independently”. He was a candidate in the 2017 election, where he lost to incumbent President Hassan Rouhani.

A number of the prominent hopefuls pulled out in Raisi’s favor prior to the announcement of the final list, such as Rostam Qassemi and Hossein Dehqan, both former commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The list, which was leaked on Monday, has triggered different reactions among the disqualified hopefuls and the qualified candidates.

Commenting on the Constitutional Council’s list in an address to a Wednesday cabinet meeting, Rouhani said he had written a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday asking for his assistance regarding the election, the official IRNA News agency reported.

Rouhani said people’s discernment is the main criterion, meaning that the ground must be fully prepared for them to come to vote and help the election come to fruition.

In a statement reported by IRNA, Jahangiri said the liabilities of his disqualification and its political and social implications lie with the Constitutional Council.

Reacting to the list, Raisi posted a video on his Instagram page, saying since being informed about the candidate list on Monday, he has been holding consultations to make the presidential race more competitive, and thus attract a larger turnout.

In response, Siamak Rahpeik, a jurist member and deputy secretary of the Constitutional Council said the disqualification of nominees has nothing to do with their political inclinations.

He explained that the council is only tasked with implementing the rule of law and the body’s regulations, and disregards political leanings while making decisions.

During a meeting via video-link with members of the Iranian Parliament on Thursday, Khamenei said the Constitutional Council’s work was based on legal procedures, urging Iranians to participate in the election, Iranian News network Press TV reported.

According to the schedule, the presidential election campaign officially starts from the date of announcing the candidate names and will end 24 hours before the election day, which is slated on June 18 this year.

At a campaign meeting on Wednesday with businessmen and members of Iran’s commerce, unions and cooperative chambers, Raisi outlined his plans to tackle the economic problems.

“We want a strong Iran and the groundwork is already laid,” he was quoted as saying by Press TV.

“Human resources, mines and treasures in the country serve as the basis. What’s now needed is efficient, arduous management, which could turn these elements into power and strength,” he said.

Also, “we believe in interactions with the entire world in order to solve the (country’s) economic issues, (but) the regional countries should be a priority,” he added.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Hashemi, another contender, vowed that his future administration, if elected, would neutralize all the anti-Iranian sanctions, Mehr News Agency reported.

He said that the target would be reached by relying on the Iranian nation, the Islamic Republic’s allies across the world, and the reinforcement of ties with neighboring countries.

“Although some of the contenders have stronger professional backgrounds, we cannot really tell who holds a better chance to win the top executive post, before all candidates lay out their plans,” Press TV said.