Iran to Announce Result of Presidential Race Led by Ultraconservative

Nellie Chapman
June 19, 2021

Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi is set to be Iran's next president after winning most of the votes counted so far. He is under United States sanctions and has been linked to past executions of political prisoners. As supreme leader, Khamenei has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

But the President, as the top official of the state bureaucracy, also wields significant influence in fields from industrial policy to foreign affairs. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran's theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

"I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots", Raisi said.

The 94-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Secretary of the hardliner Guardian Council has raised alarm in a letter to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli that he has received many reports from the provinces complaining about the way the votes are being handled. He was appointed head of the judiciary in 2019, two years after he lost by a landslide to Hassan Rouhani in the last presidential election.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites and assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

He is fiercely loyal to Iran's ruling clerics, and has even been seen as a possible successor to Ayatollah Khamenei as the country's supreme leader.

Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions, and Raisi himself has never publicly addressed allegations about his role.

What does his win mean for Iran and the world?

A close Khamenei ally and like him a harsh critic of the West, Raisi is under USA sanctions for alleged involvement in executions of political prisoners decades ago.

BBC Persian correspondent Kasra Naji adds that under Mr Raisi Iran's hardliners will seek to reinforce a puritanical system of Islamic government, possibly meaning more controls on social activities, fewer freedoms and jobs for women, and tighter control of social media and the press.

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If elected, Raisi is not expected to stray from Khamenei's anti-US stance, in contrast to Rouhani, whose comments in favour of opening up to the world sometimes appeared at variance with the supreme leader's intense suspicion of the West.

The next Iranian president, who can serve a maximum of two four-year terms, also could be a contender to replace Khamenei, 82.

"Eruption of protests will be inevitable if he fails to heal the nation's economic pain", a government official said, referring to Raisi.

Iran has responded by re-starting nuclear operations that were banned under the deal. But both sides say the other must make the first move.

"If we do not vote: Sanctions will be heavier, the USA and Israel will be encouraged to attack Iran", the leaflet warned. IRGC's Tasnim news agency reported widespread power outage at many polling stations in Tehran and said that Interior Ministry officers have sent voters home before they cast their votes.

Despite this, Iran's senior political figures, including Raisi, have voiced broad agreement that the country must seek an end to the USA sanctions in ongoing talks in Vienna aimed at rescuing the nuclear accord.

Raisi ran against Rouhani in 2017's presidential elections, receiving almost 16 million votes at the time against Rouhani's 23 million.

In Turkey, where some 4,000 Iranians voted in the Iranian Presidential election in 2017, the turnout was low at the Iranian consulate in Istanbul.

Nearly 600 hopefuls, including 40 women, registered for the election.

Two days before the election, Hemmati, the former central bank governor, pleaded with potential voters in an online discussion not to boycott the election, saying it would cede political ground to Iran's hard-liners.

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