Coming up June 14, 686 candidates registered to run, but only 8 declared eligible to run, and Paddy Power is not running a book. What's the world coming to?
Top news: A governing body of the Iranian government issued its list of approved presidential candidates and excluded two leading contenders -- Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei -- a decision that all but guarantees that the next Iranian president will be drawn from a conservative slate of candidates considered close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, is seen as a favorite among centrist, urban youth and as someone who might be wiling to introduce some liberal economic reforms and allow more personal freedoms. Mashaei, who has been endorsed by current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fell out with the ruling clerics over his more liberal interpretation of Islam. Neither man is an out and out reformer, but the two men with significant popular followings of their own at least represent a challenge to the ruling establishment's choke-hold on power.
Their exclusion now puts the spotlight on a group of eight men approved as candidates by the Guardian Council that includes Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator; Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran; Ali Akbar Velayati, the Ayatollah's foreign policy advisor; and Hassan Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator. Of these men, only Rowhani has shown a willingness -- and a mild one at that -- to break with the regime.
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