Iran goes to the polls to elect a new president in elections marked by the selection of conservative wing candidates the regime, the veto of the reformists and the fear of an unprecedented abstention. Ebrahim Raisi, current head of the judiciary and ultra-conservative cleric very close to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is the great favorite to succeed Hasan Rohaní in an election in which, according to the latest polls, the turnout will not exceed 47%, very far from 73% of 2017.
The lack of variety among the candidates, the discontent over the broken promises, the loss of confidence in the system and the rebound of the pandemic are some of the factors that would explain the lack of motivation in an appointment that the international community follows closely because it will be the new Government of Tehran who will approve or not the return to the nuclear agreement.
The 59.3 million Iranians with the right to vote can only choose between those candidates who receive the prior approval of the Guardian Council, which this time has not wanted to open the door to surprises and has not given the reformists a choice, leaving to the voters before the only option of opting for the conservative current. This time 592 people submitted their candidacy, but only seven made it through the filter. Among those discarded are the two figures who presented themselves as the great rivals to be beaten by Raisi: the country’s vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, the main asset of the reformists; and Alí Larijani, former president of Parliament, considered one of the leaders with the most support within the moderate wing. Both were vetoed, as was former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ultraconservative leader who led the government between 2005 and 2013.
The campaign for the presidency started with the seven selected, but has ended with five because two of them have decided to withdraw their candidacies in the absence of 48 hours. In the absence of the heavyweights of reformism, Abdolhossein Hemmati has become the only candidate to can get close to moderate wing and offers minimal variety to voters. The entry into politics of this technocrat, former director of the Central Bank, has been a surprise and is presented as a solution to manage the complicated financial situation of the country.
The little expectation before the elections led the Supreme Leader to urge the population to vote and, as is traditional, accused foreign enemies of conspiring to make turnout very low. “The American and British media, and the mercenaries who work under their bannersThey are killing themselves to question the elections and weaken the participation of the people, “denounced Khamenei, for whom” not going to the polling station and breaking the ballot box will not solve the problems.
Rohaní based his two victories on the economic benefits that the signing of the nuclear agreement would bring to Iran. The moderate cleric, however, did not count on Donald Trump to break it up and reimpose some sanctions that have sunk the economy because they prevent the sale of oil, the main source of income. The arrival of Joe Biden, who is considering eliminating some of his predecessor’s punishments, has reopened the door to reactivate the 2015 pact and talks are open in Vienna, although it will be the new Iranian government who must conclude them.
With Rohaní the situation experienced during the terms of the reformist Mohamed Khatamí has been repeated. Every time Iranians vote for a moderate government, the United States punishes them. In the time of Khatami, the then president, George Bush, included them in the list of countries of the ‘Axis of evil’ and with Rohaní, Trump sanctioned them despite the fact that they complied with everything agreed in the nuclear agreement.