On surface, it is hard to imagine the ruling elite allowing a sitting president to be thrown out of office through elections. That would be tantamount to a rejection of the whole regime,
at least as far as its performance over the past four years is concerned. Because many believe that the “Supreme Guide” and not the president is the ultimate decision-maker in the Khomeinist system, a vote against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may well be construed as a vote against Ali Khamenehi. Four years ago, Ahmadinejad was not Khamenehi’s first choice, and yet managed to scrape home in a controversial second round of voting. Over the past four years, however, the two men have developed what looks like a close relationship, with Ahmadinejad winning some grudging admiration from Khamenehi.