Iran's Election Race Heats Up

The early favorite to win Iran's June 17 presidential election is Hashemi Rafsanjani, who announced his candidacy on May 10. Rafsanjani, who served as President in 1989-97, is considered a pro-business moderate and asserts that he is the leader to ease tensions with the U.S. He is attracting those former supporters of outgoing reformist President Mohammed Khatami who want to avoid further consolidation of power by ideological conservatives. Rafsanjani may still face a battle. He is a controversial figure blamed for human rights abuses. His critics charge that he has benefitted economically from his longtime status as a power broker. He suffered a poor showing in the 2000 parliamentary elections. Whether he has the energy at age 70 to push through major reforms is also a question mark.

Edited by Rose Brady

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