Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raeisi elected Iran’s president

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raeisi elected Iran’s president

Voter turnout hits 48.8%, lowest in Iran’s history

Iran’s ultra-conservative judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raeisi, was declared winner of Friday’s presidential election, which saw the lowest turnout in the country’s history.

Raeisi garnered 17.92 million votes (61.9%) in Friday’s polls, defeating his three rivals in a landslide victory, Interior Minister Rehman Fazli announced on Saturday.

Former IRGC chief Mohsen Rezai came second with 3.4 million votes (11.7%), followed by former top banker Abdol-Nasser Hemmati with 2.4 million (8.3%) and former deputy parliament speaker Ghazizadeh Hashemi with around 1 million votes (3.4%).

Earlier in the day, preliminary results showed that Raeisi was leading with 17.8 million votes, followed by Rezaei with 3.3 million, Hemmati with 2.4 million and Hashemi with 1 million votes.

Voter turnout, according to the Interior Ministry, was 48.8 percent, beating the previous record.

Previously, the lowest turnout in Iran’s post-1979 revolution presidential elections was recorded in 1993 — 50.6 percent — when Hashemi Rafsanjani defeated his conservative rival Ahmed Tavakkoli.

Fearing record low turnout, passionate calls had been made by both conservative and reformist politicians for maximum participation in Friday’s polls.

Low voter turnout has evidently hurt the chances of reformist candidates, who were already on back-foot following the disqualification of key reformist candidates in the vetting process.

Raeisi’s campaign was boosted by the disqualification of senior reformist figures, including outgoing President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy Ishaq Jahangiri, as well as the growing discontent with the government.

Economic woes, including high inflation, fall in income, forex market turbulence, and mismanagement of COVID-19 crisis were some of the issues conservatives, including Raeisi, raised during the electoral campaign.

Leaders congratulate Raeisi

On Saturday morning, hours after the voting lines closed, congratulatory messages started pouring in for the president-elect, including from his challengers in the polls.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also issued a lengthy statement, congratulating Raeisi, who has been political protégé, on the election victory.

Rouhani, who called on the president-elect at his judiciary office, termed it his “duty” to “fully support” the new president. In turn, Raeisi said he would use the counsel of Rouhani in the next few weeks until he assumes the power.

Parliament Speaker Baqer Qalibaf also called on Raeisi, his conservative ally, assuring him of parliament’s support. He said the top legislative body will “stand by the new administration”.

Congratulatory messages to Raeisi also came from foreign leaders, with Russian President Vladimir Putin being the first to congratulate him.

Iraq’s President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi also congratulated Raeisi in separate messages, hoping for closer cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

Pakistani Premier Imran Khan also issued a statement congratulating Rouhani’s successor on winning the country’s 13th presidential election.

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, two key allies of Iran in the region, also sent congratulatory messages to Raeisi on his election.

Raeisi will take over from Rouhani on August 3, when the incumbent government completes its two terms in office. According to the Iranian Constitution, a candidate is barred from running the third time.

This article originally appeared in Anadolu Agency on 19 June 2021.