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Iran election explainer

A fact sheet about Iran's presidential elections due to be held on May 19.

Iranian voters are set to elect a new president in less than two weeks. The position of the president is the second most powerful after the Supreme Leader, who is commander-in-chief and controls the Guardian Council.

The May 19 vote will be the first stage, with a possible runoff vote if none of the candidates wins a simple majority of 50 percent +1 of the votes. All voting is to be concluded before the start of the holy month of Ramadan on May 26.

The two sides of the political spectrum in Iran are:

- The conservative Principlist establishment, which controls most of Iran's economic might through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp's commercial enterprises and the vast financial resources of the religious endowments.

- The Reformist bloc, which prefers political, economic and social liberalisation and an opening up of Iran to foreign investment.

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Economy:

  • Rouhani has reduced inflation by 33.5 percent from 40 percent before he took office in 2013. Growth increased by 12.5 percent during his term, but he will have a hard time convincing Iranians who still suffer economically.
  • Unemployment rates among males and females stand at 21.8 and 10.4 percent respectively, with over 30 percent youth unemployment. The dissatisfaction is likely to worsen as some three million new job seekers become active in the next three years.          

Nuclear deal:

  • The Principlist bloc argues that the deal did not benefit the economy.
  • The Reformists claim it as a victory for Iran, its economy, and its peace and prosperity, although this view has been challenged by recent US rhetoric threatening to back out of the deal and increase sanctions.

Regional security:

  • Maintaining Iran's significant influence and strategic depth in the region, especially in Syria, will be a priority for the next president.

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