Imagining a Post-Raisi Iran Commentary
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Imagining a Post-Raisi Iran
Edited by: JURIST Staff

After a 15-hour search, the wreckage of a helicopter carrying Iran’s president and foreign minister was located by a Turkish drone, leaving a nation to grapple with an unexpected transition of power.

Ebrahim Raisi was the eighth president of Iran to have been killed in the last year of his first term. When he ascended to the presidency, he did so with a record-low voter turnout, and his presidency was riddled with political controversy. Under his watch, the JCPOA negotiations reached a dead end, Iran engaged in direct confrontation with Israel, and Iranians launched widespread protests under the banner of “Women, Life, Freedom.”

His economic stewardship was equally tumultuous. The rial plunged to become the world’s most undervalued currency as inflation soared, belying his promises of growth and stability.

Though he was widely expected to be among the possible successors to the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, he was not particularly popular among voters. Critics saw his leadership as the blind implementation of the supreme leader’s dictates.

Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, no stranger to controversy himself, clashed with Khamenei’s camp during his presidency. But Raisi was seen as Khamenei’s closest acolyte, leading the judiciary before taking the presidency. His human rights record, including harsh sentences as prosecutor, drew international censure.

Now, Iran’s leadership is activating constitutional succession provisions. Per Article 131, the first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, assumes interim powers pending the election of a new president within 50 days by a council featuring the parliament speaker and judiciary chief. Article 132 stipulates several powers the first vice president in the event Article 131 is triggered. These include a freeze on minister impeachments and votes of no confidence, and a freeze on constitutional revisions, either by the acting president or the general public vis a vis a referendum.

There is certainly precedent for Article 131 succession; in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, such a temporary council has been formed three times.

But questions linger as to whether Mokhber, whose role rivaled even the first lady’s in terms of staffing key positions, can heal the nation’s schisms. He takes over an economy in shambles and a divided populace skeptical of the unelected office he inherits.

The council has confirmed a presidential election will be held within 50 days, placing the presidential and parliamentary elections in close proximity to each other.

Sharareh Abdolhoseinzadeh is an Iranian researcher in Political Sociology.


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