Iran’s presidential elections are typically tumultuous affairs. Campaigns last just a few weeks, and a candidate’s star can rise or fall in a matter of days. Ruling clerics approve only a handful of contenders for the race, which takes place every four years. But the results are almost always a surprise, and dark-horse candidates have been known to sweep to power at the last minute.

This year, there are five challengers to President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatic moderate seeking a second term in the May 19 vote. Although polling is unreliable in Iran, two candidates recently have narrowed Rouhani’s still-wide lead: Ebrahim Raisi, a powerful conservative cleric, and Tehran’s hard-line mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Both have used populist messaging to hit Rouhani on the economy, which they say suffers despite sanctions relief, and have committed to upholding the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers.

As the campaigns enter their final week, here is a closer look at Rouhani’s two leading rivals.

Ebrahim Raisi

Raisi, 56, is new to politics and was relatively unknown before the start of his campaign.


Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

Featured image courtesy of Reuters