Conservative drops out of Iran election to back hard-liner

However, recent corruption allegations on the management of a Tehran municipality cast Qalibaf's presidential bid into question.

Presidential candidate Es'haq Jahangiri on Tuesday withdrew his candidacy and endorsed incumbent President Hassan Rouhani who is seeking a second term, ISNA reported.

Raisi still faces "an uphill battle" as Rouhani will also benefit from Qalibaf's exit, said Vaez, noting the "paradox" that Iran's so-called Principlist or conservative camp is now rallying around Raisi.

He held a variety of posts related to national security during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 until 1988. And, of course, we must be honest, it wasn't President Rouhani who created this nuclear deal in Iran.

Khatami is considered to have played a key role in Rouhani's ascension to the presidency in 2013, apparently convincing reformist challenger Mohammad Reza Aref to step aside.

He also stated he supports restarting worldwide negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program hoping for reduced sanctions against Iran.

Qalibaf campaigned on improving the economy.

Mr Rouhani's government signed a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that ended some sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme. Though the nuclear deal freed Iran from global sanctions and immediately siphoned billions of dollars in previously frozen assets into the economy, the lot of ordinary people has not improved.

Jahangiri called on the Iranian nation to massively participate in the 12th presidential election and help an administration that seeks to decisively carry out major tasks.

After four months, he was appointed as Prosecutor of Hamadan Province.

In comments on Wednesday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei read the riot act for enemies of the Islamic establishment, vowing to harshly retaliate any possible invasion. "They're no longer worrying about prices going up overnight and having to hide dollars under their mattress", said Dehdilani. It took "20 years to coalesce around a single candidate, but one that lacks executive experience, a clear program and charisma", he said. Mostafa Mirsalim is a conservative and former culture minister. Iran's hard-line conservatives are widely known as "principlists".

Hashemitaba is a reformist candidate.

Over the past years, he became affiliated to the Islamic Coalition Party and Islamic Republican Party.

Qalibaf is a candidate from the conservative faction and he is the current mayor of Tehran.

He used to be a parliamentarian and served the minister of mines and metals under Mohammad Khatami's government.

Iranian elections are overseen by a clerical body that vets candidates and bars anyone seen as posing a challenge to Iran's unique brand of theocratic rule.

"In the absence of large banking firms, the deals can't happen", said Farid Dehdilani, of the Iranian Privatisation Organisation.

ERDBRINK: Well, I'm no fortuneteller, but I think as it is now, it looks increasingly probable that Hassan Rouhani will be Iran's next president, even though Iranian elections are notoriously hard to predict, I know for instance in the city of his two main competitors, Mashhad in north of Iran close to the Afghan border.