My idealist part had previously suggested Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, as the best presidential candidate next term. Now here is what my realistic part has to say.
Having read Spiegel's story on young generation of Iranian conservatives, I am fairly convinced that Javad Larijani (Laridjani), is going to run for president next term. Personally, I guess he has the highest chance of being elected among other possible conservative and new-conservative candidates such as Ataollah Mohajerani (former minister of culture), Hassan Rohani (head of National Security Council), Ali Akbar Velayati (former minister of foreign affairs), and his own brother, Ali Larijani (head of Iranain TV and Radio).
He is not only well-educated, open minded, experienced, and moderate but also very much trusted by the top leaders of the regime. Although because of his frank (or say, British) style of criticism, he is not popular enough among average Iranians—mainly because Iranians traditionally embrace irony and ambiguity. But since he is running one of Iran's most fruitful scientific research institute, The Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics or IPM in the north of Tehran, he has become very popular among a large number of graduate students and professors from the best universities in Iran.
He is a man of controversies and conflicts. It was Javad Larijani who actually permitted the first Internet connections in his institute and handed it to major universities in Iran. In fact, most of us, who became familiar with the Net in the mid-'90s, first saw the Internet through text browsers such as Lynx, connecting to the 2,400-kb/s modems of IPM. From a man who was raised in a traditional family and is one of the closest allies of Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, the supreme leader of Iran, importing the revolutionary technology of Internet is far beyond expectations.
I am fairly confident that he can steal young people's hearts and minds in case of a presidential candidacy, and he only has to convince the radical Islamists that he is the best choice. His conflicted personality, which is in part deeply rationalized and in part strongly traditional, can attract a wide range of supporters, both among voters and influential politicians. Based on what I've heard from his colleagues in IPM or journalists who have met him, he is even more liberal than most of the reformists in terms of social freedom. For example, my nephew once told me that he was shocked to see that Mr. Larijani's secretaries were not obeying the strict Islamic dress code, and Larijani didn't even care about it. Also I personally know many non-religious people who are happily working at IPM and have great and friendly relations with their boss.
As the question about the future in Iran shifts more and more to individual freedom and economic well-being instead of political freedom, I guess new-conservatives such as Larijani are more likely to become voters' favorites. They know that someone who is deeply trusted by the supreme leader and his close allies—not the current reformists—can bring the country out of its international isolation and change the current radical Islamic attitude of the government towards the people.
My personal understanding of Iranians' attitude towards the reformist camp is that they are neither perceived desirable nor capable of keeping their promises, even when they have enough power. The only thing they do best is to talk about the problems, not solving them. Consequently, someone like Javad Larijani has a great chance to bring major change into social and economic situation of Iran. He is socially and economically liberal, politically moderate and pragmatist. If he can only marginalize the radical Islamists who are around the supreme leader, he can more or less implement the model he had created in his scientific institute, where decisions are made based on rationality, and decision-makers are chosen by their knowledge and abilities.
Finally, Javad Larjinai, has talked about a Chinese model of political progress in his interview with the German magazine. Simply, it's a development model which favors economic growth and some degrees of social freedom over political development, in which people are not likely to expect too much from the government in terms of democracy and freedom of speech. However, in my opinion, despite all the new-conservatives' desires, the Chinese model cannot be successful in the long term in Iran, for numerous social and historical differences between Iran and China. But, in the short term, I believe it could be the least risky, and the most sustainable path towards an economically and internationally strong country, which, in a society like Iran, can eventually be translated to a democratic government, even if the conservatives don't want it.