"The main campaign slogans are competence and prudence, I assume developed in reaction to what is deemed as Ahmadinejad's somewhat erratic and bombastic management of the country," she said.
Farhi also believes management of the economy is connected to the question of whether Iran can exercise its foreign policy in a way "so as to mollify the external forces that are intent on further isolation and squeezing of Iran." But "the focus is mostly on tactical shifts and not a major overhaul of Iran's approach to the nuclear (issue) or foreign policy."
Players in the election
While the two faces of the 2009 Green Movement and reform -- Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi -- remain under house arrest, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's last-minute registration on Saturday changed the face of the election. He entered the Ministry of Interior in Tehran minutes before registration closed at 6 p.m. and announced his candidacy, a move that was immediately attacked by a hardliner candidate: Ali-Akbar Velayati, who said Hashemi Rafsanjani did not back Khamenei during the 2009 post-election upheaval.
Khatami, a recognized reformist, is Hashemi Rafsanjani's strongest ally and is popular among with the Iranian people. Hashemi Rafsanjani is one of Iran's most powerful politicians and the fourth president of the Islamic Regime, and a member of the Assembly of Experts.
"Hashemi changed the entire setup of the election. He weighed his options, held up Khamenei's move and waited for everyone else and every other group to sign up and then register," said Ali Akbar Mousavi-Khoeini, a former member of Iran's parliament who actively supported reform and was ultimately arrested in 2006.
"Hashemi played a great cat-and-mouse game with the Supreme Leader, who will now calculate his maneuver and pick his favorite candidate, directly based upon this move," Khoeini said.
Another move Saturday complicated matters even more: Ahmadinejad arrived at the Ministry of Interior with Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei -- Ahmadinejad's hopeful replacement whose vice presidency was publicly rejected by the Supreme Leader earlier this year. Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei condemned Ahmadinejad's move as "illegal" on Sunday.
In the midst of this factionalism, Saeed Jalili, a conservative and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, suddenly decided to also register for the June 14 election.
Yet, at this point no one knows whom Khamenei will choose to run against Hashemi and Ahmadinejad's choice.
"It's a mess," Amirahmadi said. "This election has now turned into a factional mess. Even in Iranian standards this is an internal and factional fight. No matter who comes out of this game now, others will tear him apart whenever he wants to make a move, and the nuclear issue will be locked because of this internal war that has now been created between Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani's teams."
But Mousavi-Khoeini, who now lives in Washington and is an outspoken human rights activist and expert on Iran politics, says that with respect to the nuclear negotiations and relations with the U.S., "It is obvious that Khamenei prefers someone from his camp rather than of Hashemi's -- because most certainly Hashemi Rafsanjani will work toward creating relations with the U.S. and address not only the nuclear situation but also the crisis caused by sanctions."
Government controlling flow of information
Mousavi-Khoeini believes it is too soon to project an uprising similar to those that followed the 2009 elections, but he thinks protests could break out this week as each candidate and faction tries to fight for nomination.
The regime has implemented the first phase of its "national Internet," an effort to control the flow of information going in and out of the country. This could disconnect the Iranian people from the World Wide Web at any given time and bring their connection speed down to a crawl.
"For the past month, the government has been controlling the speed of Internet and filtering global websites such as Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook and any other sites outside of those approved by the government," Mousavi-Khoeini said.
He added that "this allows the regime to control who enters what sites and what's being discussed and exchanged, therefore disabling the slightest potential for movement and mobilization," suggesting that once again, the Iranian people will have little access to the free flow of information both between each other and with the outside world.
As the election shapes up to mark a pivotal point in Iran's domestic and foreign affairs, possibly leading to nuclear negotiations, Amirahmadi is still keen on the potential prospect of negotiation and dialogue.
"I'm a true Iranian nationalist and at the same time I'm as nationalist about the U.S. as anyone can be. I don't belong to any faction or group, and ultimately believe all of Iran's problems can be solved if only the Iran-U.S. issue is resolved --- because the common interest between the Iranian people and Iran and the United States far outweigh their differences."