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Can Hassan Rouhani cling on against the hardliners?

The Iranian president is threatened by a powerful conservative rival

By Ali Ansari  

©Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images

The upcoming presidential elections in Iran—to be held on 19th May—is for the regime first and foremost about political theatre, turnout and legitimacy. For Iran’s leaders a balance has to be struck between having a credible competition and retaining control over the process. When this works well, the stability of the regime is reinforced, as with the election of the current president Hassan Rouhani in 2013, and the somewhat opaque parliamentary elections in 2016. The calamitous presidential election of 2009—when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s…

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