With less than 100 days left until Iran holds presidential elections, the field of candidates remains surprisingly unclear. The regime is taking pains to make sure there is no repeat of the 2009 fiasco, when a strong reformist movement mounted a powerful showing and challenged the official results, threatening the stability of the Islamic Republic.
This time, the regime is keeping a much tighter rein on the process and, it hopes, on the ultimate repercussions. It is all but certain that when the votes are counted after the June 14 polls close, the winner will be a conservative, loyal to both the regime and the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
In 2009, Iran’s limited democracy allowed the so-called Green Movement to rise, with two opposition candidates running against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the time, Ahmadinejad was standing for re-election with support from Khamenei, the security forces and the clerical establishment. When election results were suddenly announced two hours after the polls closed, declaring Ahmadinejad the winner, charges of fraud immediately erupted. The country exploded in massive protests, creating the most serious challenge to the regime since the revolution three decades earlier.