Moderate Tehran Mayor Eyes Presidential Bid

Ex-hardliner unites lefties, righties fed up with Ahmadinejad
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2008 5:06 PM CST
Iranian presidential candidate and Tehran Mayer Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf attends a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo Friday, Oct. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – Tehran's mayor appears to be mounting a presidential bid in Iran as political winds shift against President Ahmadinejad, the Boston Globe reports. Liberals and conservatives are allying for the first time, and Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, 47, has attended their meetings. Whoever wins in June will be "hugely consequential," one analyst said. "This is a chance to either perpetuate very negative trends or potentially for Iranians to crack open their own politics."

Ghalibaf follows a strict interpretation of Islam, but also pushes for a freer society. As police chief he recruited female officers for the first time, and as mayor, he reopened a Tehran cinema burned down by religious conservatives. He has also endorsed stronger ties with the West. Ghalibaf "appears 'cool' to young people and doesn't have the lumbering gait of the regular conservatives in Iran," one columnist said.