More than 59 million voters are called upon at the end of the week to elect a successor to President Hassan Ruhani, who was not allowed to run after two terms in office.
Due to the ongoing corona pandemic, the opening times of the polling stations have been extended and their number increased to more than 70,000. According to the Interior Ministry, the first results are expected on Saturday, but no later than Sunday. The new president is to be sworn in in August.
According to observers, a change of power is expected after the election. Of the seven candidates initially admitted, only four entered the race on election day. Including an arch-conservative cleric, a reformer, a former general and a hardliner.
The cleric and head of justice Ebrahim Raeissi is a clear favorite. The reform-minded economist Abdolnasser Hemmati, who is particularly hoping for a protest vote, is given the opportunity to be outsider.
Raeissi is charged with mass execution
In large parts of the population, Raeissi’s election victory is also very likely. Four years ago he had already failed in an election. The so-called Guardian Council, which, as an electoral body, sorted out serious competitors, increases the chances of Raeissi’s victory, which also led to violent protests in its own ranks. He is also accused of being involved in the 1988 mass execution of political prisoners.
The political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides for a civil government whose work is overseen by the Supreme Leader of the Shiite clergy. He has the final say on all important issues and controls the defense and the nuclear program. After so many candidates were banned, Iran has become politically indifferent.
A state polling institute expected a turnout of 42 percent — lower than ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was the first to cast his vote and called on the population to exercise their voting rights. Raeissi later also cast his vote.
Raeissi wants to “respect” nuclear deal with USA if he wins the election
Experts are convinced that as President Raeissi would not continue Ruhani’s moderate course. During the election campaign, he focused more on economic issues and promised a quick end to the financial crisis caused by the US sanctions. But without negotiations with the USA on the future of the Vienna nuclear agreement of 2015 , an end to the sanctions and the almost three-year economic crisis would not be feasible.
Raeissi had criticized this agreement again and again in the past few years, but was recently rowed back: “We will respect the agreement, but we will provide the conditions for it, not the USA.” However, he does not want to announce his conditions for this until later. In Middle East policy, too, observers expect a more radical course, and in relation to Israel an even more hostile one than before.
There is currently more skepticism than hope among the population. Disappointed by Ruhani and the reformers, most Iranians do not expect any major changes from Raeissi either. Above all, they hope for an end to the economic crisis. At the same time, many fear that Raeissi’s policies could lead to a renewed isolation of their country.
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