Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Leading Iranian Cleric Enters Election in Threat to Rouhani

  • Ebrahim Raisi could unite conservatives, change poll race
  • Fellow conservatives Ahmadinejad and Qalibaf have dropped out
Updated on

The announcement that a prominent conservative cleric will run for Iran’s presidency next month has transformed the race, potentially unifying opponents to President Hassan Rouhani in a strong challenge to his re-election.

Ebrahim Raisi declared his candidacy on Thursday, according to Tasnim news agency, a day after two other conservatives, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, bowed out. The emergence of a single strong opponent could not only narrow Rouhani’s chance of winning on May 19, but also position Raisi as the front-runner to succeed 77-year-old Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader, when he dies.