TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran will hold its 2009 presidential election on June 12, when conservative Mahmud Ahmadinejad is widely expected to stand for a second four-year term despite mounting criticism over his economic policies.
Iranian media said the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, and the Interior Ministry had agreed on the date. The election was due in mid-2009 but the exact timing had not previously been announced.
"The 10th presidential election ... will be held on the 22nd of Khordad of next year," election headquarters head Alireza Afshar told the Fars News Agency, referring to the number of such elections in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Iranian month of Khordad ends on June 21 next year.
Under the constitution, the president is Iran's second-highest official after its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the ultimate authority in matters of state.
Economic Issues To Dominate
With significant powers both in domestic and foreign policies, the president heads the government and can appoint and dismiss ministers and also chairs the powerful Supreme National Security Council.
Even though Iran's nuclear row with the West dominates headlines about the country abroad, analysts predict that the economy and rising inflation in the world's fourth-largest exporter will be the main battleground in the election campaign.
Ahmadinejad, who says Iran will never back down in the nuclear dispute, won the 2005 vote on a pledge to share out Iran's oil wealth more fairly and to revive the values of the revolution almost three decades ago.
The hard-line president has proved a polarizing figure in Iranian politics, with some conservatives joining reformist critics in saying his uncompromising approach on the nuclear issue has further isolated the Islamic Republic.
He is also facing criticism from the public, the media and pro-reform opponents over his government's failure to rein in high inflation, officially running at around 27 percent on an annual basis.
But he has won crucial support from Iran's most powerful figure, Khamenei, who ultimately determines nuclear and other key policies. He has praised Ahmadinejad's handling of the nuclear file.
The West accuses Tehran of seeking to build atomic weapons despite Iranian denials. Iran's failure to convince world powers of its peaceful aims has led to three rounds of UN sanctions.
Pro-reform politicians, who seek social and political change, have called for more diplomacy to engage the West and have also accused Ahmadinejad of squandering Iran's oil revenue windfall.
Ahmadinejad has yet to say whether he will stand for re-election. Among his potential rivals, former parliament speaker and reformer Mehdi Karroubi has been nominated as a presidential candidate by his party.