Iranians vote for brand spanking new president to interchange Ebrahim Raisi | EUROtoday

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Iranians are headed to the polls Friday for a snap election to decide on a brand new president, with a slate of principally conservative candidates searching for to interchange hard-line chief Ebrahim Raisi after he died final month in a helicopter crash.

The vote comes as Iran copes with a number of crises, together with an ailing economic system and tensions with Israel. Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is the second Iranian president to die whereas in workplace for the reason that Islamic Revolution in 1979.

For Iran’s ruling clerics, a clean, predictable election with excessive voter turnout is vital each for the regime’s stability and its legitimacy. The influential Guardian Council, an unelected physique of jurists and theologians, vetted and accredited six candidates for the race — two of whom dropped out on the eve of the election to consolidate the conservative vote.

The major front-runners are parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and ultraconservative Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator. Masoud Pezeshkian, a cardiac surgeon, is the one contender from the reformist camp, which favors gradual change and engagement with the West.

In Iran, the president yields to the supreme chief on vital issues comparable to nationwide safety and protection, however he additionally has the ability to set the nation’s financial insurance policies, oversee the nationwide price range and signal treaties and laws.

Khamenei this week warned the general public in opposition to supporting candidates who “think that all ways to progress pass through America,” a veiled reference to Pezeshkian. But he additionally known as for “maximum” voter turnout to the polls, saying that elections “help the Islamic Republic overcome its enemies.”

Since it was established, Iran’s Islamic authorities has emphasised elections to underpin its authority, even because it upheld a largely theocratic system that grants political and spiritual energy to Shiite clergy.


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“It’s a contradiction that’s been at the heart of the system since its founding,” stated Naysan Rafati, an Iran analyst on the International Crisis Group, and one which has “become increasingly stark over the past few years.”

Iran as soon as boasted excessive voter turnout, which reached 70 % when President Hassan Rouhani was reelected in 2017, in line with state media. But since then, the figures have plummeted, with about 40 % of eligible voters taking part on this yr’s parliamentary election — a historic low for the Islamic Republic.

In that point, Iran confronted political, social and financial turmoil, together with the unraveling of its nuclear take care of world powers and the return of U.S. commerce sanctions that crippled the economic system. Its most distinguished common, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. airstrike close to the Baghdad airport, elevating fears of a wider conflict. And at dwelling, three waves of mass protests — over value hikes, austerity measures and the nation’s strict ethical codes — have been met with lethal crackdowns by Iranian safety forces.

“I think the people who are going to vote are either connected to the system, which means they are happy with how things are, or they are very naive,” stated a 38-year-old bakery proprietor in Tehran.

She spoke on the situation of anonymity out of concern of reprisal by authorities, saying that the final time she voted was in 2009. That yr, officers introduced that hard-line candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had gained the presidency in a landslide, prompting huge avenue protests led by Iran’s reformists. Authorities cracked down arduous on the protest leaders, sending them to jail or into exile. The bakery proprietor stated she misplaced hope within the potential to affect change.

“To be honest with you, I don’t trust any of them,” she stated of Iran’s political class. “I think it is silly to have hope.”

Others adopted an analogous trajectory, together with Arash, 38, a development employee in Tehran. He stated he was disillusioned by the federal government’s response to the latest protests in 2022, when nationwide unrest broke out following the demise in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Arash, who spoke on the situation that he solely be recognized by his first identify out of concern for his security, stated he was arrested for taking part within the demonstrations. And the temper amongst his mates this week was considered one of “extreme anger.”

“There is this apocalyptic view that we should vote for the most hard-line candidate and maybe that would make the situation worse,” mobilizing folks to topple the federal government, he stated.

Arash doesn’t essentially agree that it’s the greatest technique and stated he nonetheless may vote, however not as a result of he thinks something will enhance. Rather, he believes that wider voter participation will make it harder for the federal government to pretend the outcomes.

According to Rafati, authorities haven’t taken any steps to deal with the underlying issues which are holding folks away from the poll field.

“They’d like to have the best of both worlds. They’d like to be able to point to high turnout and be able to claim popular legitimacy, he said. “While at the same time narrowing the band of permissible candidates to a handpicked few that even by the system’s own exclusionary standards has become very, very narrow.”

If no candidate reaches 50 %, a second spherical between the 2 contenders with essentially the most votes will probably be held subsequent week. But a runoff election might imply extra uncertainty, an final result the supreme chief in all probability desires to keep away from, stated Suzanne Maloney, vp and director of international coverage on the Brookings Institution, the place her analysis focuses on Iran.

“A second round could jump-start the mobilization of Iranians who are interested in reform or even more ambitious outcomes in a way that could be threatening to the absolute control of the system,” she stated.

Many of the “constraints” Iran has launched to the election course of — such because the strict vetting of candidates — intention to attenuate the unpredictability voting brings to the political house, stated Maloney.

“Khamenei traditionally has not been much of a gambler on domestic politics,” she stated.