The only reformist candidate in Iran's presidential election has dropped out today, state media have reported. Today is the last day of campaigning ahead of Friday's vote.
Former Vice President Mohsen Mehralizadeh withdrew his candidacy along with hard-line rival Alireza Zakani, leaving just five candidates left. Such withdrawals have featured frequently in Iranian elections so as to boost the chances of other candidates.
It is believed that Mehralizadeh's departure will benefit the chances of moderate hopeful Abdolnasser Hemmati, a former head of the central bank. The ultraconservative judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is the front runner.
Late last month, Mehralizadeh pledged that if he won in his bid to become president, he would create about 4 million jobs through a six per cent increase in economic growth.
Outgoing moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is term-limited from standing as a candidate again, leaves behind a mixed legacy of engagement with the West and closer cooperation with Russia and China, but was unable to deliver on many of his promises. Oil sales boomed under the Obama-era nuclear deal, but revenues and Iran's economy soon plunged after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.