Iran’s polls set to split divided conservatives in two

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While the list of approved candidates has yet to be released, the June 18 poll is already widely expected to be a showdown between conservative Ali Larijani, a former parliament speaker, and ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi.

According to the elections committee, close to 600 hopefuls — including 40 women — have registered to be candidates to succeed moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term.

But only a handful will be allowed to run after vetting by the Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated, unelected body in charge of overseeing elections.

The first fractures within the conservatives date back to the “Green Movement”, which emerged in 2009 during protests against the disputed re-election of populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But it was the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna that deepened the cracks

In Iran, the word “conservatives” — “mohafezekaran” in Persian — is rarely used, a term that appeared in media only in 1997.

Until then, only the “right” and the “left” were known within the “Followers of the Line of the Imam”, the supporters of the Islamic republic’s late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

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