Millions of low-income Iranians voted for the new president last year, motivated by his firm stand against corruption and pledges to give financial priority to their needs.
"His appeal was to those for whom class discrimination is important, and his simple lifestyle gave an air of credibility to his claims," said Nasser Hadian, a political analyst at Tehran University who attended high school with Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Mr. Hadian predicted that senior Iranian clerics would continue to support Mr. Ahmadinejad -- or at least not move against him -- for about a year because of that popular support. But privately, he said, they feel he is isolating Iran internationally and putting its economy at risk.
Also at the back of their minds is the fear that his anti-corruption drive ultimately threatens their own considerable privileges.
Mr. Ghaninejad was one of 13 experts in economics who warned, in two petitions to the government just before Mr. Ahmadinejad was elected, that his populist, short-term policies would spell disaster for Iran in the long term.
"Now he's throwing money at complex problems and just doesn't care about the long term. He thinks he should help the poor today and leave everything else to the Hidden Imam," the newspaper editor said, referring to a character whom Shi'ites believe will one day emerge to bring justice to the world.
Mar 14, 2006
Iran's economic crisis spells trouble for Ahmadinejad
Business leaders and senior clerics don't like his anti-West rhetoric or his free spending policies.