Karim Sadjadpour reads tea leaves:
Those who trust the integrity of the electoral process — an increasingly small group — foresee a run-off between Rowhani and Ghalibaf. Those who believe that Khamenei’s decision is paramount project Jalili as the obvious winner. And perhaps for the first time, Khamenei may see his interests in conflict with those of the Revolutionary Guards. If past is precedent, however, there’s one thing we do know: predicting anything about Iran’s opaque politics is a fool’s errand. And, having never progressed beyond college calculus I am no Nate Silverzadeh. But if there’s something that seems like a good bet, it’s that the Supreme Leader will remain supreme.
Shervin Malekzadeh offers an aerial view:
It is not lost on Rouhani’s supporters (nor on Rouhani himself) that some 34 years after the revolution and the consolidation of clerical authority in Iran, voters are turning to the sole cleric on the ballot for change. That Rouhani, a regime stalwart, the close companion of Khomeini, and the former head of Iran’s National Security Council today embodies the leading edge of reform speaks to the peculiarities of Iran’s democracy. The righteousness of the revolution is at stake, as it always is, during these elections. Iran seeks not only to stand against the United States, but to prove that its version of democracy, Islamic democracy, is the true version. Whether or not this impulse is sincere, the aspiration leaves the regime exposed to reinterpretations of what it means to be righteous, democratic, and Islamic. The creation of new narratives like Rouhani’s occurs because of pressure from the Iranian public. The hustle for votes means finding and accepting new ideas into the old folds of ideology. Outside of another revolution, which is unlikely to occur, this is a considerable accomplishment.