Iran is gearing up for a pivotal presidential election with over 61.5 million eligible voters, amid concerns about economic stability and political legitimacy. Recent elections saw a decline in turnout, raising skepticism about the fairness of the process. Despite efforts to encourage participation, including bans on rallies, many fear the regime will manipulate the outcome.

Following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, contenders include conservative frontrunners Saeed Jalili and Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf. Their failure to form a pre-election pact could benefit reformist candidate Massoud Pezeshkian. Jalili’s push for Qalibaf’s withdrawal underscores the stakes, with Jalili opposing Western ties and advocating strict social policies.

Both Pezeshkian and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seek high turnout for differing reasons: Pezeshkian to challenge regime control, Khamenei for legitimacy. Despite attempts to consolidate conservative support, skepticism about electoral fairness persists. Reports of manipulation add complexity to Iran’s political landscape, casting doubt on prospects for genuine change.