Iranian state television announced Tuesday that only seven candidates had been approved by the country’s constitutional watchdog for next month’s presidency, drastically narrowing the field of hopefuls who will replace outgoing President Hassan Rouhani
The report did not name the individuals selected, despite rumors circulating that reformists and moderates vying for the spot may have been expelled from the Guardian Council.
State television quoted Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, spokesman for the Guardian Council, as saying that “only seven” had been approved out of 590 people registered by the group of clergy and lawyers overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Kadkhodaei.
The Iranian Interior Ministry, which oversees the police and elections, usually announces the candidates. In 2017, 1,630 hopefuls registered for the run.
The Iranian judiciary Ebrahim Raisi, a die-hard clergyman who ran against Rouhani in 2017, is considered by analysts to be the strongest candidate in the upcoming vote on June 18. Many in Iran are frustrated with Rouhani, whose signature was the 2015 nuclear deal, which is now in tatters after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal.