Iran has opened registration for potential candidates in next month’s presidential election amid continued high tensions with the West and uncertainty over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
The registration process kicked off on May 11 and will last five days, after which entrants will be screened for their qualifications by the Guardians Council, a hard-line constitutional watchdog that has in the past disqualified many moderate would-be candidates.
The council is to announce a final list of candidates by May 27, triggering a 20-day campaign season ahead of the June 18 vote.
President Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate whose government is taking part in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, cannot seek reelection after having served two consecutive four-year terms.
Turnout could be hit by rising discontent over steep rises in consumer prices and high unemployment as the Iranian economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. economic sanctions reimposed after Washington in 2018 pulled out of the nuclear accord, which lifted international sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran responded to the U.S. moves by stepping up its violations of the accord by enriching uranium to a greater purity, stockpiling more than allowed, and introducing more advanced centrifuges.
Several rounds of talks with world powers in Vienna on reviving the nuclear accord have yet to make major progress.
Iranian hard-liners took control of parliament last year in polls that saw 42.5 percent turnout, the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought a clerical regime to power.