Process over substance. Soviet/’Arab Spring’-like.
The two presidential candidates best known in the West are Iran’s current nuclear negotiatior Saeed Jalili, an unequivocal hardliner, and Hassan Rouhani, who was nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005 under reputedly moderate president Mohammad Khatami. During the election campaign Rouhani leveled harsh criticism at Jalili, claiming it was his aggressive negotiating approach that led to the Western sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions against Iran.
Rouhani’s criticism of Jalili, however, boils down to style. Rouhani proudly takes credit that, during his own, more restrained tenure as nuclear negotiator, “the groundwork was laid for developing the country’s nuclear capability quietly and secretly, far from the tumult of the international system.”
The West, meanwhile, has been taking a breather from the Iranian nuclear issue while awaiting the results of the elections—despite the fact that just about all knowledgeable Iran analysts agree that, beyond a possible change in style, the elections will have no real impact on that issue.