Ayatollah: “It is the people’s day.” The fear of abstention
Seats open in Iran, where over 59 million voters are called to choose the eighth president of the Islamic Republic, in a vote in which abstention is likely to be the protagonist. Four candidates are in the running, with one big favorite: the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi, head of the judiciary and sanctioned by the US for violations of human rights. Considered by many to be the predestined to succession to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, official polls see him at over 60% of the votes. The first to vote was Khamenei himself. “Election day is the day of the Iranian people”, he said after giving his preference in the mobile seat set up at Hosseiniye Imam Khomeini, in Tehran. “Every vote counts”, he added, “come and choose your president, it is important for the country”. State TV, already from the early hours of the morning, broadcast long queues outside the polling stations in various cities. Despite the calls for a vote, a political competition deemed low and the feeling of an already written result could contribute to a low turnout, especially among young people, an important slice of the Iranian electorate.
The Guardian Council, responsible for the electoral process, approved only seven of 592 aspiring candidates, leaving out prominent figures from both the conservative, moderate and reformist camps close to Rohani. The choice of the Iranians then narrowed further after three last-minute retreats, including that of the only reformist admitted, Mohsen Mehralizadeh. The other candidates are: former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati, a moderate technocrat targeted by some of the reformists; former Pasdaran commander Mohsen Rezaei and vice president of parliament Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi. Voting takes place until 2 am (11.30 pm in Italy). The official results will be announced in three days, although by tomorrow it should already be clear who will be the winner: if no candidate collects 50% of the votes, it will go to the ballot, set for the first Friday after the announcement. of the results. According to the latest ISPA polls, the turnout should stop at 42%, a drastic drop compared to the 73% of the last presidential elections in 2017 and a level never so low since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. A fact that can only be partially explained by the fear of contagion from Covid-19. The general disaffection with politics, after years of economic crisis, corruption and bad governance, risks sanctioning a dangerous deepening of the gap between the ruling class and society