Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh, one of the Reformist candidates in Iran’s presidential election, has dropped out of the race, in what will likely boost the chances of fellow Reformist candidate Nasser Hemmati for election.
Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday that Mehr-Alizadeh informed the Iranian Interior Ministry, which is in charge of holding elections, of the dropout in a letter, with giving more details.
Mehr-Alizadeh’s campaign and the Interior Ministry have not yet made any comments on the reports.
His departure, which was announced on the last of campaigning, will leave six more candidates in the June 18 presidential race. The move will likely increase the chances of Hemmati, who lags far behind his rival Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, according to opinion polls.
Hemmati, who was Iran’s Central Bank chief until recently, is widely considered to be a stand-in for outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration has been taking the heat in the course of campaign events for “mismanaging” the country’s economy.
Other dropouts are also expected before Friday, the Election Day.
Mehr-Alizadeh, 64, served as vice president and head of the National Sports Organization of Iran in the administration of ex-President Mohammad Khatami, who heads Iran’s Reformist camp.
During Khatami’s terms, Mehr-Alizadeh was also governor of Iran’s Isfahan and Khorasan Provinces. The politician unsuccessfully contested the 2005 presidential election, ranking last among the seven candidates.
In the past weeks, Mehr-Alizadeh was campaigning on a platform of bringing “a third Khatami administration” to office.
Although he is a Reformist, Khatami and the broader Reformist faction did not lend him support, after the Constitutional Council disqualified their top representative, Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, and a number of other Reformist figures from contesting the election.
In the course of his campaign events, Mehr-Alizadeh reportedly met Khatami and wrote to the main Reformist bloc in an apparent attempt to win their backing, but to no avail.