IRAN: Khomeini’s grandson latest political heavyweight to back Rouhani

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) speaks with the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's grandson,

The death of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) left a void in contemporary Iranian politics. Here, he speaks with the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s grandson, (R) the latest in a trio of  political heavyweights to get behind Rouhani

The  grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has publicly thrown his weight behind President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election bid, writes Rohollah Faghini. Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, announced his support for the moderate Rouhani, who is seeking a second term in today’s election. Such an endorsement is unprecedented for the Khomeini family.

In a video message Khomeini, who is increasingly popular among young people due to his moderate views on politics and Islam, asked people to once again “trust” Rouhani, arguing that the moderate government has been successful in managing the economy. Seyed Khomeini registered to run in the Assembly of Experts election in February 2016, but was barred from running by the Guardian Council, which is tasked with vetting candidates.

Khatami

Former reformist president Khatami

On May 15, Seyed Mohammad Khatami, (pictured right),the former Reformist president (1997-2005) who is considered to be one of the most popular figures in Iran, released a video message urging people to cast their votes and support Rouhani.

Ali Nateegh-Nouri

Ali Nateegh-Nouri

Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, (pictured left), a moderate conservative, has also stepped forward to back Rouhani publicly. On May 16, Nouri, who is currently the head of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Inspection Office, also called on people to vote for Rouhani and declared him to be the most fit among the presidential candidates.

These three prominent figures have effectively formed a trio in an attempt to fill the void left by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who died in January.  Rafsanjani enjoyed great political influence and was the main supporter of Rouhani, who was considered to be his protege. The trio appears to be trying to persuade the so-called “gray voters” to cast their ballots. In the Iranian political lexicon, “gray voters” are those who usually don’t vote but swing votes whenever they do participate in elections — such as in 2013, when Rouhani was elected.

Neither Nategh Nouri nor Khomeini explicitly and publicly backed Rouhani when Rafsanjani was alive. Their decision to do so now will most likely help the incumbent among conservative and religious voters.

Rohollah Faghini of Iran Pulse contributed this article to Al Monitor

 

 

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