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Iran: the only reformist candidate drops out of presidential campaign

TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 15: Former Iranian vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh addresses the media after registering his candidacy at the Interior Ministry candidate on May 15, 2021, in Tehran, Iran. Candidature applications continue in Iran for the Presidential elections to be held on June 18. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)
Former Iranian vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh in Tehran, Iran on May 15, 2021 [Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

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.

The election comes amid ongoing talks between Tehran and world powers regarding the 2015 nuclear deal and the sanction-hit country's own economic and social crises.

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.

READ: Nuclear deal must wait for new Iran gov't, IAEA says

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