Iranians vote in an all but decided presidential election

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 18, 2021

The election victor will take over in August as Iran's eighth president from incumbent Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who has served the maximum of two consecutive four-year-terms allowed under the constitution.

Iran's sitting president, Hassan Rouhani, is not taking part in the 2021 election, as his second tenure is coming to an end.

Hardliners also now control the judiciary, the mainly appointed and powerful Guardianship Council, key financial and economic institutions, the state media networks and most of Iran's security apparatus.

For the exiled Iranian opposition and rights groups, Raisi's name is indelibly associated with the mass executions of leftists in 1988, when he was deputy prosecutor of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, although he has denied involvement.

"How can we vote for these people who did this to us?"

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, later voted from a mosque in southern Tehran, waving to those gathered to cast ballots. In recent days, a more militant faction advocating boycott has been threatening Iranian voters online. But polls have shown Raisi with an overwhelming advantage over Hemmati and two other candidates.

State television is full of breathless election coverage, and huge posters using the hashtag #myvote and inspirational quotations from Mr Khamenei, the supreme leader, have been pasted up across the capital.

Raisi, who like the supreme leader was born in Mashhad, is believed to be the most likely candidate to succeed Khamenei.

"If I go and vote, I will vote for change", said Zeraafat Moradi, a 60-year-old widow who sells office supplies on the street. "How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?"

For his part, Khamenei warned of "foreign plots" seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday.

For an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions, the lack of choice at the ballot box means a vote serves little objective, analysts of Iranian politics say. A flyer handed out Wednesday on the streets of Tehran by hardliners followed in that thought, bearing the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. "Iran will be under shadow of a Syrian-style civil war and the ground will be ready for assassination of scientists and important figures". Poll workers also wore gloves and masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, with some wiping down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

Polling stations are to stay open no less than 17 hours, until midnight (19:30 GMT), with the option of extending it for another two hours, to extract every possible vote.

Yet the disqualification of candidates seemed aimed at preventing anyone other than Raisi from winning the election, as Khatami did in 1997 by surprisingly beating a hardliner favored by Khamenei.

Over 50 per cent of Iran's 85 million population has been pushed under the poverty line since 2018, when then US President Donald Trump ditched a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed nuclear-related sanctions that have squeezed Tehran's oil income.

For Arabs who are tired of Iran's belligerent policies in the region, there is much to hope for to help establish some boundaries in the tense relationship with Iran, though they are not holding their breath for a breakthrough.

The decision to limit participation comes as whoever wins likely will serve two four-year terms as almost every Iranian president has since the revolution. That's why in another way they really do matter on a range of crucial issues.

Ebrahim Raisi - Widely believed to be the preferred candidate of the Supreme Leader who considers Raisi a close confidante and possible successor.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE