Ebrahim Raisí has won the presidential elections on Friday in Iran, with a large majority, but under the shadow of the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic (48.8%).
The ultra-conservative head of the Judiciary has obtained 62% of the 28.9 million votes cast, as announced this Saturday by the Interior Minister, Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli.
Both his two main rivals and the outgoing president, Hasan Rohaní, congratulated him without waiting for the official result.
Rahmani-Fazli has reported that, after the count, Raisí obtained 17.9 million votes, followed by the former head of the Revolutionary Guard Mohsen Rezaí, with 3.4 million (12%);
the moderate former governor of the Central Bank Abdolnaser Hemmatí, with 2.4 million (8.5%);
and the deputy Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemí, has not reached one million (3.4%).
The rest, 14%, have been invalid votes, according to the minister.
Iran votes in presidential elections dominated by conservatives and under the shadow of the covid
Despite the fact that the result follows the intended script, Kian is surprised by the numbers. "Almost 18 million votes", repeats aloud this unemployed engineer who earns some money with the mobility platform Snapp, the local Uber. "I don't think everyone is really supportive of Raisí, many like my parents' doorman, they vote because they believe it is a religious duty, but they are not happy either," he says.
The result of this discontent is the lowest participation in presidential elections since the 1979 revolution, although last year's legislative ones remained at 43%.
Perhaps also the high number of invalid ballots.
The calls to boycott the elections also contemplated the blank vote for those who need to have the vote stamp in their
Both these votes and the high abstention rate are interpreted by activists and opponents as an exercise in civil disobedience in a regime that until now exhibited the large turnout at the polls as proof of legitimacy and popular support.
Some analysts believe, however, that a change has occurred and that an election with little participation is now accepted.
Control of the three powers
However, both factors cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the future president, a protégé of the supreme leader, Ali Khameneí. With his election, the hard wing of the regime will have control of the three powers of the State for a decade. The ultra-conservatives (they call themselves
already swept the parliamentary elections last year and control the judiciary, as well as the armed forces (which report directly to the supreme leader).
In his first reaction after the announcement of the results, the president-elect has promised that his government "will do everything possible to ensure the livelihoods of the people." Raisí, 60, campaigned under the slogan "People's Administration, Strong Iran," emphasizing fighting corruption, fighting poverty, creating jobs and containing inflation. That message has permeated many Iranians who are on the edge of the economic effects of the US sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic. But the support obtained is far from that obtained by Rohaní in 2013 and 2017 (the law prevents him from a third consecutive term), with participation of 73%.
The hitherto head of the judiciary has been much more sparing in his foreign policy comments. Like the rest of the candidates, he has said that his government would continue negotiations to reactivate the nuclear agreement. Although that area is the prerogative of the supreme leader, who has given his approval to the Vienna negotiations, some observers believe that Raisí's triumph may complicate its development. To begin with, it is foreseeable that he will want to appoint new negotiators, something that he will only be able to do from August when he takes office. His mistrust of the West, and of the United States in particular, could make it difficult to understand in this area.
US President Joe Biden has promised to reintegrate his country into the nuclear agreement if Tehran, for its part, backtracks on its violations with which it has responded to the abandonment of the United States. steps for that return, Washington does not hide that the 2015 pact is a first step and that the ultimate objective is to reach an understanding so that Iran will stop supporting the militias that operate in several Arab countries and put an end to its missile program. Although both issues are the responsibility of the supreme leader, he listens to the president and Raisí will probably be less favorable to making concessions.
The fact that the Trump Administration sanctioned the president-elect in 2019 for internal repression may also be an obstacle. Amnesty International has called for Raisí to be investigated for crimes against humanity. It blames him "for the murder, forced disappearance and torture of political dissidents" for his participation in the so-called
death commission at the
end of the eighties of the last century.
"As head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, has presided over a growing repression of human rights that has led to the arbitrary detention of hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups," tweeted Agnès Callamard, AI's new secretary general and former UN rapporteur for extrajudicial executions.
As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiraling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained.
- Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) June 19, 2021
Raisí supporters celebrate the triumph
The poster announced: Great celebration of the triumph of the people of Iran in the square of Enghelab (Revolution) at seven in the afternoon. But at the scheduled time, there is no sign of the "revolutionary friends" who sign the brochure. Neither the fifty policemen and soldiers deployed in the square know anything about the party. In the end, supporters of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi have opted for Imam Hosein Square, 5.5 kilometers further east.
Before arriving, a nationalist song is already being heard at full volume with which the master of ceremonies tries to attract the attention of the attendees. When he sends the music, he asks them to applaud the new president, whom his followers have already elevated to the dignity of ayatollah (until recently he had the rank of hoyatoleslam). The two or three thousand people gathered enthusiastically respond.
There are groups of girls with chadors, university students and families with children who run around happily waving Iranian flags. They have also installed some rugs so that the older ones can sit and they distribute soft drinks from a truck. All very well organized, light years away from the spontaneous celebrations that the elections of the now outgoing one, Hasan Rohaní, provoked.
“I have come to show my sympathy with the Iranian people,” says Saide Izadpanah, a 25-year-old metallurgical engineering student who, although she is covered with her chador, has it open revealing a light-colored robe. Of course, she voted for Raisí because she is convinced that he will improve the economy and the situation in the country. Would you like me to improve relations with the West? "It is the West who rejects us," he says. Nor is he concerned that it will limit women's freedoms. “We Iranians have freedom before and now. That will not change ”, he concludes.
Said and Mohamed, both 25 years old, also belong to the Raisí fan club, although they say they are “more from the country than from Raisí”, in keeping with the message of the party in which the line between patriotism and support the president-elect is blurred. Said, an industrial engineering student, has no doubt that Iran will improve: "The youth is the country's foremost force and he supports the youth."
Are you concerned about the accusations of crimes against humanity against him? "If you look at it wisely, he had no direct involvement, but even if he had, those courts executed traitors who had shed the blood of the Iranians," Said dismisses. Do you want me to improve relations with the outside world? “It is more important that first the country is strong and we can face the aggressions”, responds Mohamed. And the nuclear deal? "If it benefits us, yes," he adds with the consent of Said.