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2001 Iran 2009
Iranian presidential election, 2005
June 24, 2005
Results Second Round:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 16-17 October 2007.jpg AkbarHashemiRafsanjani.jpg
Nominee Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Party Abadgaran ECP
Popular vote 17,284,782 10,046,701
Percentage 61.69% 35.93%

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

2001 Iran 2009
Iranian presidential election, 2005
June 17, 2005
Results First Round:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 16-17 October 2007.jpg AkbarHashemiRafsanjani.jpg
Nominee Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Party Abadgaran ECP
Popular vote 5,711,696 6,211,937
Percentage 19.43% 21.13%
Mehdi Karubi-campagne.jpg Mostafa moeen.jpg
Nominee Mehdi Karroubi Mostafa Moeen
Party ACC Mosharekat
Popular vote 5,070,114 4,095,827
Percentage 17.24% 13.93%
2005 Votes.png
Presidential election results map, which candidates had the most votes in every province, only in a few provinces one candidate won an all out majority

Previous President
Mohammad Khatami



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Iran's ninth presidential election took place in two rounds, the first on June 17, 2005, the run-off on June 24. Mohammad Khatami, the previous President of Iran, stepped down on August 2, 2005, after serving his maximum two consecutive four-year terms according to the Islamic Republic's constitution. The election led to the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline mayor of Tehran, with 19.48% of the votes in the first round and 61.69% in the second. Ahmadinejad is believed to have won the second round because of his populist views, especially those regarding the poor and their economic status[citation needed]. Officials reported a turnout of about 59% of Iran's 47 million eligible voters, a decline from the 63% turnout reported in the first round of balloting a week before.[1]A loyal supporter of conservative Supreme Leader Khamenei, Ahmadinejad kissed the leader's hand during his authorization ceremony.[2][3]



The schedule of the election had been decided between the Ministry of Interior and the Guardian Council for June 17, 2005. The election will continue as a runoff race, which will take place a week later than the first round of elections, on June 24, 2005. The registration of candidates began on May 10, 2005 and continued for five days, until May 14. If the Guardian Council had requested, it may have been extended for five more days, until May 19. The candidates were not allowed to do advertisements, until the final list of approved candidates are known. The official period for advertisement was May 27 to June 15.

In the first round, Iranian nationals born on or before June 17, 1990, residing in or outside Iran, were able to vote. The election in Iran began on 09:00 local time (04:30 UTC) and while the original deadline was ten hours later on 19:00 (14:30 UTC), the deadline was extended three times by the Ministry of Interior, finally until 23:00 (18:30 UTC). Outside Iran, different times are used as the opening and closing hours for the polling offices. On the same date, mid-term Majlis elections for Gachsaran, Garmsar, Ghazvin, Ilam, Iranshahr, Jolfa, Marand, Sarbaz, and Shiraz took place together with the runoff elections of Tehran for the Iranian Majlis election of 2004.

The first three suggestions by the Ministry, for May 13, May 20, and June 10, 2005, had been rejected by the Council. The Ministry had mentioned that it is concerned that an election later than May 20 may collide with the final exams of the elementary schools and high schools.

The second round of the election happened on June 24, and Iranian nationals born on or before June 24, 1990 were able to vote. The election in Iran began at 09:00 local time (04:30 UTC) and the closing time of the voting polls was at 19:00 (14:30 UTC), but was subject to extension by the Ministry of Interior.


The registration of the candidates finished on May 14, 2005 and 1014 candidates had registered to run, including many people who didn't have the qualifications required in the law. More than 90% of the candidates were men, and there were about ninety female candidates. The law about the election process does not include any requirements for people who want to register to run: it only provides qualifications that are to be checked by the Guardian Council.

The candidates must have first be approved by the Guardian Council before being put to public vote and it could be predicted that some of the candidates would not win the approval, especially Ebrahim Asgharzadeh and Ebrahim Yazdi, who were rejected by the Council in the parliamentary elections of 2004 and/or the presidential elections of 2001. There were also some people who expected Mostafa Moeen, the most controversial reformist candidate, to be disqualified as well. But the most unpredictable was the disqualification of conservative Reza Zavare'i, a former member of the Guardian Council and an approved presidential candidate for two previous elections.

Also, there was a high probability of rejection of women, because of an ambiguous term ("rejāl", رجال) in the Constitution of Iran, a requirement for presidential candidates, which may be interpreted as either "men" or "nobles". The Guardian Council, who is also the official interpreter of the constitution, has mentioned on previous elections that the restriction has not been considered in depth yet, since according to the Council's opinion there were no women registered to run for presidency who fulfilled the other requirements of the constitution; but still, the Council believes that the requirement of rejaal would not match women.

There had also been discussions for a new law proposed in the Majlis, restricting the maximum age of the candidates for the presidential elections. This was widely seen as an attempt to limit the participation of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mehdi Karroubi. The attempt failed with no proposal appearing.


Approved candidates

The list of all the people who have officially registered to run for the post is not available to the public, but the Guardian Council published a final list of six approved candidates on May 22, rejecting all independent candidates and some candidates from the both wings, specially the reformist candidates Mostafa Moeen and Mohsen Mehralizadeh. This raised many objections among the general public and the political parties, including student protests in the Tehran University, among other universities. This, and the objections of some of the approved candidates, led to a letter from Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, to the Guardian Council asking for the approval of Moeen and Mehralizadeh (this had apparently been because of a request by Haddad-Adel, the conservative Speaker of the Parliament) [1]. It is unknown if that letter meant that the Guardian Council must have approved these two, or it should have only reconsidered their case. The next day, on May 23, the Guardian Council announced the approval of Moeen and Mehralizadeh.

Mohsen Rezaee, one of the approved conservative candidates, who is the Secretary of Expediency Discernment Council and a previous commander of the Iran-Iraq war, withdrew in the evening of June 15.

These are the candidates approved by the Council of Guardians:


  • Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council and a former President of Iran, who has won the support of several parties from both of the wings (and may still win more support), but is considered to be leaned towards the conservatives more than towards the reformists. Ironically, the reformist alliance considered him as a possible candidate of theirs more than the conservative alliance. He was invited to run for president by Executives of Construction Party (reformist), Combatant Clergy Association (conservative), Islamic Labour Party (conservative), and Workers' House (reformist), as well as several other parties across the whole spectrum of positions. Rafsanjani confirmed he is running for the election on May 10, after lots of speculations [2].


  • Mehdi Karroubi, former Majlis Speaker, Secretary General of Association of Combatant Clerics (MCS), supported by MCS, Islamic Association of Engineers, Majma'-e Gorooh-haa-ye Khat-te Emam, and Democracy Party of Iran.
  • Mohsen Mehralizadeh, Vice-President and Head of National Sports Organization, member of IIPF. Mehralizadeh has first announced that he will be running for the post on behalf of the Iranian younger generation, but not if the reformist alliance reaches consensus on another candidate, but during the registration mentioned that he will remain in the race until the end.
  • Mostafa Moeen, former Minister of Science, Research and Technology, supported by Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) and Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO). Confirmed to run on December 29, 2004. IIPF, an influential reformist party in Iran, has mentioned that they won't support any presidential candidate outside the party, except Mousavi and Moeen. Since Mousavi has declined to run, they supported Moeen, whom they claimed to be the most probable candidate to win the approval of other parties in the reformist alliance. Some conservative Majlis representatives had asked for the Guardian Council's rejection of Moeen, which happened finally but was reversed after a letter by Ayatollah Khamenei. Moeen had announced that he would choose Mohammad Reza Khatami as his First Vice President if he was elected, and had already chosen Elaheh Koulaee, a female representative of the sixth Islamic Assembly, as his spokeswoman.


Rejected candidates

  • Reformists
    • Akbar A'lami, Majlis representative of Tabriz.
    • Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, former member of Tehran city council, Secretary General of Islamic Iran Solidarity Party (Hezb-e Hambastegi-e Irān-e Eslāmi), and one of the hostage-takers in Iran hostage crisis. It should be noted that Asgharzadeh was even not supported by his own party (Islamic Iran Solidarity Party). Asgharzadeh was rejected by the Guardian Council to run as a candidate in the 2001 presidential elections, which had made him unlikely to be approved this time.
    • Mostafa Kavakebian, secretary-general of Democracy Party (hezb-e mardomsālāri). Kavakebian supported Karroubi after he himself was rejected.
  • Conservatives
    • Zabihollah Bakhshi, commonly known as Haji Bakhshi, militia leader
    • Rafat Bayat, Majlis representative from Zanjan, a member of conservative caucus in parliament. On March 30, she stated that she would run independently, not supported by any significant party in the conservative alliance [3]. It was assumed by some people that she would probably get rejected by the Guardian Council, because of the rejāl requirement (see above).
    • Reza Zavare'i, former member of Guardian Council, invited to run by Chekaad-e Daaneshjooyaan-e Mosalmaan
  • Independents
  • Unknown affiliation
    • Ayatollah Mohammad Sajjadi ([4])

Declinations and withdrawals

The most important withdrawal was that of Mohsen Rezaee, one of the candidates who was approved by the Guardian Council and participated in the race until the evening of June 15, 2005, two days before the election and only a few hours before the final deadline allowed for advertisements. Rezaee mentioned he was withdrawing from the race for "the integraton of the votes of the nation" and "their effectiveness". He did not endorse any candidate. [5]

Also, several people were considered possible candidates for the post, who later declined to run early in the race or at the final moments before registration. A list of the ones considered seriously in the media includes:

General Election


While pre-voting polls mostly favored a run-off between Rafsanjani and Mostafa Moeen[citation needed], the actual vote counts from the Ministry of Interior unexpectedly put Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mehdi Karroubi in second and third places. Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad led with respectively 21.0% and 19.5% of the votes, and were followed by Karroubi (17.3%), Moeen (13.93%) , Ghalibaf (13.89%), Larijani (5.9%), and Mehralizadeh (4.4%) [6]. Domestically, there were 29,317,039 votes, which amounts to a turnout of 62.66%, as there were 46,786,418 eligible voters.


Shows in which provinces the reformists (green) and in which provinces the conservatives (red) won a majority in the first round.

The first round of the election was a very close race with minor differences in the number of votes won by each candidate which led to a run-off a week later with Ahmadinejad and ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani participating. There were seven people running for the post out of more than a thousand initial candidates, most of whom were disqualified by the Guardian Council, which is responsible for vetting by constitution for election. Rafsanjani, who had been regarded as the front-runner and had positioned himself as a centrist, was defeated by Ahmadinejad in the run-off, while reformist candidate Mostafa Moeen fared poorly and finished only fifth in the first round.

This was the first presidential runoff in the history of Iran. Before the run-off took place, it was compared to the 2002 French presidential election, where the splintering of the left-wing vote similarly led to a run-off between the moderate Jacques Chirac and the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen. The comparison was made because of the unexpected votes in favor of Ahmadinejad, the very close race, and the comparability of the political standings of Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad to those of Chirac and Le Pen. But after the results for the run-off were made public, the comparison was considered void due to the loss of the moderate candidate Rafsanjani, although Ahmadinejad's opponents formed an alliance against him.

There was a total of 27,959,253 votes in the second round, slightly lower than the first round. Considering that the number of eligible votes was raised by about 150,000 people, the turnout was about 59.6%.

The tabulated results follow:

e • d Summary of the 17 and 24 June 2005 Iranian Presidential election results
Candidates Votes 1st round % Votes 2nd round %
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5,711,696 19.43 17,284,782 61.69
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 6,211,937 21.13 10,046,701 35.93
Mehdi Karroubi 5,070,114 17.24 - -
Mostafa Moeen 4,095,827 13.93 - -
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf 4,083,951 13.89 - -
Ali Larijani 1,713,810 5.83 - -
Mohsen Mehralizadeh 1,288,640 4.38 - -
Blank or invalid votes 1,224,882 4.17 663,770 2.37
Total (turnout 62.66% and 59.6%) 29,400,857 100 27,959,253 100

Results Per Province

The results of the first round, per Province:

Province Ahmadinejad Karroubi Larijani Mehralizadeh Moeen Qalibaf Rafsanjani Total votes
Ardabil 34,090 53,906 7,766 111,465 67,134 106,272 95,490 476,123
Azarbaijan, East 198,417 21,609 28,075 378,604 190,211 122,160 268,954 1,308,390
Azarbaijan, West 75,319 99,766 15,435 163,091 146,941 141,289 151,525 793,336
Bushehr 82,376 98,148 8,207 4,942 68,547 46,962 97,412 406,594
Chahar Mahaal and Bakhtiar 90,960 75,044 23,127 5,051 48,356 64,068 59,521 366,128
Fars 242,535 546,633 61,383 22,440 217,122 273,542 403,074 1,766,729
Gilan 149,026 203,941 50,070 33,996 182,321 171,562 215,478 1,006,394
Golestan 56,776 193,570 42,334 8,283 156,862 87,522 155,498 700,845
Hamadan 195,030 218,018 24,002 20,496 84,42 72,986 175,997 790,953
Hormozgan 81,054 177,413 78,161 9,679 153,648 25,326 75,601 599,982
Ilam 32,383 108,627 6,783 3,026 56,526 41,082 40,580 289,007
Isfahan 801,635 196,512 73,452 30,325 196,261 198,409 260,858 1,757,452
Kerman 129,284 152,764 221,219 9,697 52,896 112,056 480,271 1,158,187
Kermanshah 70,117 254,780 22,033 12,516 106,804 115,439 137,010 718,699
Khorasan, North 22,954 89,551 16,900 8,209 37,330 100,091 70,407 345,442
Khorasan, Razavi 377,732 297,967 78,976 33,488 325,281 877,665 527,707 2,518,816
Khorasan, South 101,638 27,705 5,716 4,958 39,276 49,043 57,244 285,580
Khuzestan 232,874 538,735 58,564 20,164 148,529 148,234 319,921 1,467,021
Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad 34,396 96,459 20,306 1,572 50,954 52,259 56,154 312,100
Kurdistan 22,353 111,249 10,261 7,785 92,884 48,913 54,004 347,449
Lorestan 69,710 440,247 31,169 6,865 53,747 70,225 121,130 793,093
Markazi 161,669 104,522 17,258 14,058 65,592 71,828 143,118 578,045
Mazandaran 159,291 103,229 464,891 18,467 148,408 116,763 311,949 1,322,998
Qazvin 118,414 81,569 24,649 18,078 68,366 77,399 108,928 497,403
Qom 256,110 25,282 10,894 14,451 27,824 25,792 104,004 464,357
Semnan 98,024 25,899 28,190 3,873 26,572 37,059 69,773 281,390
Sistan and Baluchestan 47,743 77,017 24,954 7,312 479,125 68,605 155,147 859,903
Tehran 1,500,829 415,187 246,167 281,748 648,598 614,381 1,274,276 4,981,186
Yazd 175,206 58,132 9,317 5,186 60,510 66,892 77,924 453,167
Zanjan 93,309 62,845 22,869 18,568 68,649 71,365 110,698 448,303
Source: Interior Ministry[4]


Iranians campaigning for a 2005 presidential candidate.

The Islamic Republic government of Iran, especially the Supreme Leader and the higher offices, publicly considers the turnout of the voters, which was about 64% in the first round, to resemble the support of the population for the regime, while some voters consider voting for the candidates less aligned with the supreme leader as a vote against the current practices of the regime.

Also, some voters, including exiled citizens belonging to opposition political groups or monarchists (both living outside Iran), some parts of the intellectual community living in Iran, and even a few reformists, had boycotted the election as a symbol of not supporting the current regime and its practices. The boycotters' reasons included the massive rejection of registered candidates, that they believed that the role of the Iranian president is insignificant in the power structure and overshadowed by those of the supreme leader who is practically elected for life, and that they believed that all the candidates had already helped the regime in the oppression of its political opposition or would do so if elected. The most famous boycott leader was Akbar Ganji, imprisoned in Evin prison for his journalism and in a hunger strike.

While some members of the intellectual community in Iran supported the boycott, some key figures, residing inside Iran or exiled to Europe or North America, had asked their readers and the general population to vote in the election, reasoning that not voting in the election would result in the election of one of the three conservative candidates, who were all military people with a background in Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The most famous supporters of voting in the intellectual community included Ebrahim Nabavi, Masoud Behnoud, and Khashayar Deyhimi. These people were mostly supporting Moeen as their preferred candidate who is considered to be the least aligned with Ayatollah Khamenei, but a few have also talked or written in support of Rafsanjani or Karroubi.

After the results of the first round, many of the supporters of the boycott are now supporting Hashemi Rafsanjani, and many of the supporters of the reformist candidates, including many supporters of Moeen, are doing the same. Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) and Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO), as the two main parties who supported Moeen, are included, with IIPF asking for "uniting against the rise of religious fascism" and MIRO telling about the rival "Führer-istic mindset". Moeen himself has mentioned that he will not personally vote in the second round, but that his supporters "should take the danger of fascism seriously" and should not think about a boycott in the second round.

Also, Emadeddin Baghi, the President of the Iranian Association for Supporting Prisoners' Rights and one of the boycotters, has also spoken in support of Rafsanjani and mentioned that while he still considers Rafsanjani a conservative, he prefers his traditional conservatism to Ahmadinezhad's fundamentalism.

Comparative to other elections, there does not seem to be any major drop in number of votes caused by boycott. The turnout in the previous election, i.e. Khatami's second term, was at 67%. [5]

Election controversies

After the first round of the election, some people, including Mehdi Karroubi, the pragmatic reformist candidate who ranked third in the first round but was the first when partial results were first published, have alleged that a network of mosques, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps military forces, and Basij militia forces have been illegally used to generate and mobilize support for Ahmadinejad. Karroubi has explicitly alleged that Mojtaba Khamenei, a son of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, was involved. Ayatollah Khamenei then wrote to Karroubi and mentioned that these allegations are below his dignity and will result in a crisis in Iran, which he will not allow. As a reply, Karroubi resigned from all his political posts, including an Advisor to the Supreme Leader and a member of Expediency Discernment Council, on both of which he had been installed by Khamenei. The day after, on June 20, a few reformist morning newspapers, Eghbal, Hayat-e No, Aftab-e Yazd, and Etemaad were stopped from distribution by the general prosecutor of Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi, for publishing Karroubi's letter.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the leading candidate, has also pointed to organized and unjust interventions by "guiding" the votes, and has supported Karroubi's complaint [7].

A suspicous election result pointed out by Western journalist Christopher de Bellaigue was a 95% voter turnout and first place result for Ahmadinejad in the province of South Khorasan. This despite that region's large numbers of disgruntled Sunni Muslims, and Ahmadinejad's association with "intrusive Shia Islamism."[6]

Also, some political groups, including the reformist party Islamic Iran Participation Front, have alleged that Ahmadinejad had only ranked second because of the illegal support and advertising activities for him during the voting by the supervisors selected by the Guardian Council, while the supervisors should have remained impartisan according to the election law. Also, the reformist newspaper Shargh has pointed to an announcement by Movahhedi Kermani, the official representative of the supreme leader in Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, mentioning "vote for a person who keeps to the minimum in his advertisements and doesn't lavish", which uniquely pointed to Ahmadinejad. [8]

Some of the controversies involve activities of the Guardian Council such as the publishing an opinion poll before the election giving Ahmadinejad front-runner status. It also announced the partial results of the election on the day after the election, putting Ahmadinejad on the second rank while he was still in the third rank in the partial statistics published by the Ministry of Interior, which led to President Khatami going to the Ministry several times and explicitly asking the Council to not announce any more partial results.


  1. ^ Hard-Liner Wins Decisively in Iran Presidential Election By John Daniszewski June 25, 2005 in print edition A-1
  2. ^ "Behind Ahmadinejad, a Powerful Cleric". New York Times. September 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-06. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Islamic Republic of Iran Presidential election of June 2005
  5. ^
  6. ^ Christopher de Bellaigue, The Struggle for Iran, New York Review of Books, 2007, p.122

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