The first democratically elected president of Iran since the 1979 revolution, the Iranian leader is also a self-professed monarchist. His appearance after a cabinet reshuffle
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has named a new cabinet, less than two months before elections which could change the balance of power in the country.
Rouhani’s decision to change one-third of his cabinet came amid a parliamentary election, expected to take place between 23 and 28 May. The reformist president, who hails from the moderate camp of the Iranian establishment, has prioritised the economy, human rights and national security, in the runup to the vote.
He is under strong domestic pressure from members of parliament who have sought to slow his pace of economic transformation. On Sunday, Rouhani asked the head of parliament’s economic committee to convene a meeting of parliamentarians to decide whether there should be legislative oversight on the government’s bank reform plan.
This would be the first time since the revolution that parliament would get involved in banks, a powerful institution in Iran.
The former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a relative moderate, left office with unpopular economic policies and Iran’s economic woes. If a reformist wins, they can block what he had done.
Presidential candidates criticised Ahmadinejad’s economic policies and imposed tougher controls, in part because of widespread corruption.
Profile Who is Hassan Rouhani? Show Hide
Formal education History: secondary school and some intermediate classes
Bachelor’s degree in philosophy
Postgraduate diploma in international relations (1997)
Aged: 72. Political career: 1989-1997: Head of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Tehran
1997-2005: Chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Revolution Change Council
2005-2009: Minister of Education 2005-08: Moderator of the Assembly of Experts 2009-present: President of Iran 2017-present: President of Iran
Rouhani left the conservative clerical order in 1998 to form a reformist party, the Platform for Hope. The party was banned by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He also stood as a candidate for president in 2009, when he finished third in the official race. Mostafa Hashemitaba (Hatian), a hardliner, won the election with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Lahijan), another conservative, coming second.
Following his failed attempt to take power in 2009, he had to endure a cold shoulder from Khamenei. However, Rouhani was able to rebuild alliances and reap the benefit of changing public mood.
The 2017 presidential election was billed as a referendum on Rouhani’s reformist presidency, yet his chief rival, Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric, gained the most votes. He may now seek to challenge Rouhani for the presidency in June.
Born in Quakest, in eastern Iran, on 28 August 1951, Rouhani became a student of history at the time of the Islamic revolution.
He served as mayor of Tehran from 1987 to 1992 and was deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance, the same post in which he was to succeed Ayatollah Khamenei. He also served as economy minister and briefly in charge of Iran’s nuclear affairs in 2003.
He is the grandson of a prominent Shia cleric. He studied under a great-grandfather who led a revolution to reform the clergy. The revolutionary movement brought Iran’s clerical leaders into politics and promoted the new generation of thinkers in the Shia community.
After he was named head of the Platform for Hope in 1989, he worked hard to develop links with the older generation of scholars and intellectuals within the Shia community.
His claim to a full-fledged cleric’s pedigree has been challenged by hardliners but he has won admiration from many intellectuals.
In 1988, after being released from prison, he advised young turbaned men from his vantage point as an interior ministry official and established a popular institute to train clerics.
As soon as his name was announced as candidate for the 2017 presidential election, his clerical credentials attracted the attention of US critics.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, said the change showed Rouhani was a true follower of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his revolution and praised him for acknowledging the contribution of young people in the movement to create the Islamic Republic.