OpinionIran in the World PressHardline at home and abroad

Hardline at home and abroad

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The Guardian: How much power will the new president have?
Mr Ahmadinejad is subordinate to supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Under the Islamic republic’s system of velayat-e faqih (leadership of the supreme jurist), Mr Khamenei, with the constitutional watchdog, the guardian council, has final say in crucial fields, such as foreign policy, the armed forces, intelligence, the judiciary, and police. The Guardian

Robert Tait

How much power will the new president have?

Mr Ahmadinejad is subordinate to supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Under the Islamic republic’s system of velayat-e faqih (leadership of the supreme jurist), Mr Khamenei, with the constitutional watchdog, the guardian council, has final say in crucial fields, such as foreign policy, the armed forces, intelligence, the judiciary, and police. Unlike outgoing reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, this may not lead to political deadlock. As a religious hardliner, Mr Ahmadinejad is thought to have Mr Khamenei’s backing.

Parliament, the Majlis, is run by hardliners, so the legislative and executive arms will run in harmony.

Is Mr Ahmadinejad the staunch anti-reformer his background suggests?

Throughout the campaign, his status as the hardline candidate was never in question. Unlike the liberalising instincts of the reformers, Mr Ahmadinejad is frequently defined by his infamous remark that Iran “did not have a revolution in order to have a democracy”.

He has sought to strike a conciliatory note. In the run-up to Friday’s poll, his aides insisted there would be no new regulations on private behaviour. Mr Ahmadinejad’s popular base, however, is the basij, the hardline volunteers whose members help enforce the nation’s Islamic laws.

How will his election affect ties with the US and the wider Middle East?

Renewed ties with America are unlikely. In contrast to his defeated opponent, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who talked of rapprochement, he belongs to a firmly anti-US camp. “Relations with the United States are not a cure for our ills,” he has said.

While he is thought to know little about foreign policy, his election could signal a more sharply ideological approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which Iran opposes. US officials also fear a bolstering of Iranian support for groups such as Hizbullah.

Will his election affect the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme?

Mr Khamenei has the final say. But the president-elect is a staunch supporter of a right to nuclear power and it could signal a more belligerent negotiating stance.

Western diplomats also fear he belongs to a hardline faction that believes Iran should have a nuclear bomb.

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