Iran polls | International

Conservative cleric tipped to win as Iran votes in presidential poll

Decisive poll: Ebrahim Raisi, a presidential candidate, waving at mediapersons after casting his vote in Tehran.   | Photo Credit: EBRAHIM NOROOZI

Iranians voted on Friday in a presidential election, in which conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi is seen as all but certain to coast to victory after all serious rivals were barred from running.

After a lacklustre campaign, turnout was expected to fall to a new low in a country exhausted by a punishing regime of U.S. economic sanctions that has dashed the hopes of many for a brighter future.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, cast the first vote in Tehran and then urged Iran’s nearly 60 million eligible voters to follow suit before the scheduled close of polls at midnight.

“The sooner you perform this task and duty, the better,” said the 81-year-old, stressing that voting “serves to build the future” of the Iranian people.

Pictures of often flag-waving voters dominated state TV coverage, but away from the polling stations some voiced anger at what they saw as a stage-managed election.

Economic woes

“Whether I vote or not, someone has already been elected,” scoffed Tehran shopkeeper Saeed Zareie about the pre-election vetting that barred all but seven of the more than 600 hopefuls. “They organise the elections for the media.”

Enthusiasm has been dampened further by the economic malaise of spiralling inflation and job losses, that has been deepened by the pandemic.

“I’m not a politician, I don’t know anything about politics,” said Tehran car mechanic Nasrollah. “I have no money. All families are now facing economic problems. How can we vote for these people who did this to us? It’s not right.”

Iranian opposition groups abroad and some dissidents at home have urged a boycott of the vote they see as an engineered victory for Mr. Raisi, the 60-year-old head of the judiciary, to cement ultraconservative control.

But many queued to vote at schools, mosques and community centres, some carrying Iran’s green, white and red national flag.

One conservative mother wearing the full-body black chador came with her two young sons dressed in the camouflage uniform of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ultimate political power in Iran, since its 1979 revolution toppled the US-backed monarchy, rests with the supreme leader.

But the President, as the top official of the state bureaucracy, also wields significant influence in fields from industrial policy to foreign affairs.


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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 8:01:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/conservative-cleric-tipped-to-win-as-iran-votes-in-presidential-poll/article34852899.ece

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