Why these Iranian elections are so important - expert

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now 82 years old, meaning that it is possible the ayatollah could pass away during the next president's term.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote during the presidential election in Tehran (photo credit: TIMA VIA REUTERS)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani casts his vote during the presidential election in Tehran
(photo credit: TIMA VIA REUTERS)
Iran is facing elections on June 18, which could be one of the most important votes for the country in many years.
According to expert Arash Saleh, the representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan to the US, “these rounds of elections are specifically important because, whoever becomes president, during his presidency the Islamic Republic may go through a transitional process.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now 82 years old and because Iranian presidents tend to serve two terms of four years, it is possible Khamenei could pass away during that time.
“Recently strong rumors have been circulating pertaining the health of Ali Khamenei the current leader,” Saleh said, noting that Iran’s power centers revolve around Khamenei’s office, “which is the office of Vali-e-Faqih (Guardian Jurist) and is controlled by Khamenei’s son Mojtaba.” He also notes the importance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, “which is solely controlled and commanded by Vali-e-Faqih.”
Saleh points out that Khamenei’s office is represented throughout the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps via clerics. “This makes IRGC an ideological military group strongly akin to ISIS, with the exception that it has mutated into a more modern and effective version that has a strong presence in all sectors of Iran.”
Saleh, who is Kurdish, is part of a Kurdish political party that has opposed the regime in Iran for many years and has also been persecuted by the regime.
He notes how the IRGC has increasingly taken control of every aspect of Iran, from sport to culture and both private and public sectors. “The IRGC wants to make sure that the right person is picked after Khamenei is dead. They wanted the person to be a real reflection of the Vali-e-Faqih theory.
“The [office of Khamenei] and the IRGC are trying to have all main hinges of power to prepare the country for the transition... The hard core of power is trying to make the political power as homogeneous as it can get in order to assure a smooth transitional period.”
This means that the choice of the president is important as well. “The ability of the system to plan its transition by institutionalization of electoral engineering should put an end to the myth of reformability of the regime and of the possibility of any change from within its fractions,” Saleh explained.
His point is that this is an illusion coming from outside Iran that portrays the regime as particularly complex and a system of “moderates” and “hard-liners.”
In fact what appears to have happened is that the IRGC and its elements have increased their power and stranglehold on Iran. They leave increasingly less possibilities for change and less of a window for critique.
This means that this election in Iran may cement and increase their control. Whatever protests existed in the past, such as in 2009 or 2019, illustrate that there is widespread opposition to this system. However those voices have been suppressed, arrested and persecuted.