Could the Iranian Economy Sink Rouhani?
CAMBRIDGE – For a “managed democracy,” Iran holds remarkably unpredictable presidential elections. And the upcoming election on May 19 is no exception, given that the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, is facing a tough conservative challenger.
Rouhani’s opponent, Ebrahim Raisi, is ahigh-ranking cleric who is considered to be a possible successor to Iran’sSupreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s campaign has received a boostfollowing the withdrawal of another hardliner, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the mayorof Tehran, who garnered one-third as many votes as Rouhani in the 2013 election.
When Rouhani was elected in 2013, Iran was suffering from 35% inflation, the national currency had depreciated by two-thirds in the previous year, and international sanctions were crippling the economy. Oil exports and output of automobiles – Iran’s leading manufacturing industry – had each declined by two-thirds, and restless industrial workers were demanding back pay.