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Iranians vote in election all but guaranteed to deliver an ultra-conservative president

Iranian presidential election 2021 is being held by Friday in a controversial election that was all but guaranteed to deliver a hardline president after all the other serious contenders were barred from the race.

The practically uncontested frontrunner is Ebrahim Raisi, the ultra-conservative judiciary chief, who is currently under US sanctions. His only non-conservative election rival is Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former central bank governor running on a moderate platform.

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FILE – In this June 6, 2021 file photo, Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi, points during a campaign rally in Eslamshahr, southwest of Tehran, Iran. The presidential election on Friday, June 18, is likely to be a coronation for Raisi, a hard-line candidate long cultivated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

There were signs on Friday afternoon that Iranian presidential election 2021 turnout would be lower than hoped for by the country’s conservative clerical rulers, as many moderate-minded voters snubbed a poll seen by many as a foregone conclusion. Polls ahead of the election predicted that turnout could be less than 50% for the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

“Each vote counts … come and vote and choose your president … this is important for the future of your country,” said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after casting the first vote early Friday. “Low turnout will increase the pressure of the enemies.”

solve the problems.”

Raisi emerged as the frontrunner after an election supervisory body known as the Guardian Council barred his main rivals from the race. The move was widely criticized, even by Khamenei, who called some of the disqualifications “unjust.”

Raisi’s expected win would come at a pivotal moment for Iran. The next government will have to confront an economic crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and calls for constitutional reform. Tehran is also currently locked in negotiations with the United States about how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

There are also growing questions around the succession plans for the 81-year-old Khamenei. Regardless of who wins the presidential election, under Iran’s political system it is the Supreme Leader who makes the final call on all major matters of state. Analysts said a victory for Raisi in Friday’s presidential election could pave the way for him to become the next Supreme Leader.

“It’s the right of the people to be upset and perhaps some have been upset by the current situation, but I’m asking all of the Iranian people to come to the polls to solve the problems,” Raisi tweeted after he cast his ballot on Friday.

“I hope that people will feel the change soon … I consider myself a servant for all of the people of Iran,” Raisi also said, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

 

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