Mohsen Mehralizadeh, the only reformist candidate who is running for the upcoming presidential election in Iran, got out of the race on the last day of the election campaign. According to the report issued by the Iranian state news agency, Mehralizadeh delivered his resignation letter on Wednesday to the Interior Ministry, which is the body responsible for running elections.
Mehralizadeh’s dropping out of the election is evaluated by analysts as an attempt to boost the chance of a moderate candidate. In fact, such moves by hopefuls are not extraordinary in Iranian politics. Such dropouts had been observed in the Iranian presidential elections to boost the chances of similar candidates.
Given the current candidates for the June 18 elections, it can be said that the moderate candidate who would benefit much from Mehralizadeh’s departure is likely to be the former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati.
Mohsen Mehralizadeh, at the age of 64, previously served as the vice president in charge of physical education under reformist President Mohammad Khatami and as a deputy in the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, which is the body responsible for the country’s civilian nuclear program. Running for the 2005 election, Mehralizadeh came in the last place. He was also disqualified by the vetting body for the 2015 presidential election.
With the resignation of Mehralizadeh, six candidates remain for the upcoming election. Election surveys show that the country’s hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is leading. On the other hand, analysts entertain the possibility that other hardline candidates may also drop out to support Raisi. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also gives his weight to the former judiciary chief.