Video: Iranians rally in support of Rafsanjani’s surprise presidential candidacy

May 11, 2013

On Saturday in Tehran, with only 10 minutes left for candidates to register for the upcoming Iranian president election, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made his way through the crowd to add his name, potentially reshaping the race.

Supporters were filmed in Tehran cheering on his decision, per this video surfaced by the Tehran Bureau Web site, which covers Iran from afar.

The 78-year-old Rafsanjani was president from 1989 until 1997, a very different time in Iranian politics. He's seen by many Iranians as "a pragmatic voice in the current political order who could help guide Iran out of its current problems and potentially mend relations with the United States," according to a fascinating profile by The Washington Post's Tehran correspondent, Jason Rezaian.

Rafsanjani is also thought to be extremely wealthy, something that might not exactly endear him with Iran's middle class, which has been suffering badly under sanctions and inflation.

His candidacy still has to be formally approved by the Iranian Guardian Council, an official body aligned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, that oversees democratic processes.

Whether he is approved or not, Rafsanjani's mere entrance into the race and into Iran's fractured politics could have major ramifications for the country's political present and future. The Post's Tehran bureau will be watching it closely, as will we, so please do check back.

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Max Fisher | May 10, 2013