Iranian state television announced Tuesday that only seven candidates have been approved by the country’s constitutional watchdog to run for president next month, drastically narrowing the field of hopefuls for who will replace outgoing President Hassan Rouhani.
The report did not name those selected, though rumors have circulated that reformists and moderates vying for the spot may have been barred from running by the Guardian Council.
State TV quoted Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman of the Guardian Council, as saying “only seven” had been approved out of some 590 who registered by the panel of clerics and jurists overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Kadkhodaei did not name those selected.
Iran’s Interior Ministry, which oversees its police and elections, typically announces the candidates. in 2017, 1,630 hopefuls registered to run.
Iran’s judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric who ran against Rouhani in 2017, is considered among analysts to be the strongest candidate in the upcoming June 18 vote. Many in Iran have grown frustrated with Rouhani, whose signature achievement was the 2015 nuclear deal that’s now in tatters after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.