The council, which has the authority to decide who may run in elections, is composed of six clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists nominated by the head of the judiciary. Candidates are screened based on their beliefs in the principles of the Islamic Republic.
The candidates approved to run for president in the June 12 election are:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (top left): President of Iran since 2005, Ahmadinejad is seeking his second term. Considered a member of the country’s ultra-conservatives, Ahmadinejad has maintained a hard-line approach toward Israel and the United States, seeking to continue Iran’s nuclear program and making incendiary comments about Israel’s right to exist. A former mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad has been harshly criticized in recent months for Iran’s continued economic slump, with soaring inflation, rising unemployment, and a growing deficit contributing to the country’s financial woes.
Mir Hussein Moussavi (top right): A former prime minster of Iran from 1981 to 1988 and Ahmadinejad’s most serious rival for the presidency, Moussavi led the country during the long and bloody Iran-Iraq War. Despite the difficulty of that period and the food rationing that Moussavi introduced, he remains well-respected among a broad swath of Iranian society. Now considered a reformist who favors greater freedoms of speech and the press, Moussavi has said that he will not back down from pursuing a peaceful nuclear program, though he seeks improved relations with the United States.
Mehdi Karroubi (bottom left): A moderate cleric and former speaker of the Parliament, Karroubi lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election, finishing third. His base of support is largely rural, and he has pledged that curing the country’s economic woes will be at the top of his agenda. Karroubi has also vowed to undertake dramatic social reforms, including pressing for equal rights for women and discontinuing patrols that enforce Islamic dress. A harsh critic of Ahmadinejad, Karroubi has said that he would sit down with President Barack Obama if “the right steps” emerged from Washington.
Mohsen Rezai (bottom right): A conservative candidate, Rezai served as head of the Revolutionary Guards from 1981 to 1997. Currently the secretary of the Expendiency Discernment Council, which advises the supreme leader, Rezai has said he is willing to work with the United States on regional security and has criticized Ahmadinejad for his bungling of the economy. The long-shot candidate of the four, Rezai would find his travel options sharply curtailed as president: He is wanted by Interpol in connection with a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina.