People will elect new president in Iran Presidential Election on Friday but one of the four candidates to replace Hassan Rouhani considered stubborn. Polls show Ebrahim Raisi is the clear favourite. He is conservative Shia cleric who heads the judiciary. The moderate former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati is his main rival.
Rouhani, a moderate who has tried to contact the West, cannot run for re-election. He has served two terms in four consecutive years. Dissidents and some reformers have called for a boycott, saying the ban on several candidates leaves Raisi without serious competition.
There is also widespread discontent among Iranians with the economic hardships. They face problems after US abandoned its nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed crippling sanctions. The victory of one of the hardliners should not disrupt talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers to revive a deal. Before Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.
What are Turnout expectations by Iran Presidential Election?
Turnout in the last Iran Presidential Election in 2017 was 73%, but a recent poll by ISPA suggests it could be as low as 42% on Friday. Iran’s population is 80 million and about 59 million people are eligible to vote. Low turnout will create problems for Iranian leaders who see voter turnout as a sign of legitimacy.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei urged people to show their support and choose or risk placing more international sanctions and pressure on Iran.
Who are the approved candidates?
A 66 years old hardliner is secretary of the Benevolent Council, which advises the Supreme Leader and has ultimate power to settle disputes over legislation. He led the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.
A 64 years old technocrat became governor of Iran’s central bank in 2018. His appointment to senior positions with Rouhani has considered a testament to his ability to work across all factions in Iran. However, he has criticized by other candidates. He has fired after becoming a candidate.
The 60 years old cleric served as a prosecutor for most of his career. He was appointed chief justice in 2019. Mr. Raisi describes himself as the best man to fight corruption and solve Iran’s economic problems. However, many Iranians and human rights activists expressed concern about his role in the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s.
Amirhossein Qazizadeh Hashemi
Amirhossein is an ENT surgeon and member of parliament since 2008. The 50 years old hardliner is the youngest candidate.