Daily Review: What President Raisi’s Death Means for Iranian Politics

Daily Review: What President Raisi’s Death Means for Iranian Politics
Former Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2021 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died yesterday in a helicopter crash. The country’s foreign minister also died in the accident, which state media said was caused by a technical failure. Iranian VP Mohammad Mokhber will assume the role of acting president and must organize elections for a new president within 50 days. (New York Times)

Our Take

After taking office in 2021, Raisi was able to carve out considerable influence for himself in a role that typically operates under significant institutional constraints. Technically, the president is the second-highest ranking official in Iran, but Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian regime’s dominant factions hold the real decision-making power.

Compared to his predecessors, who were often in tension with these factions, Raisi was in total alignment with them, serving as an effective executor, rather than a formulator, of policy. That might have made Raisi unpopular among Iranians. But it made him a powerful figure in the Iranian political system, while also generating speculation that he could be a potential successor to Khamenei, who has ruled for more than three decades and is rumored to be in poor health.

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