Iran goes to the polls in a climate of massive social apathy

Iran goes to the polls in a climate of massive social apathy

Iran is holding a snap presidential election today to decide who will succeed hardline conservative Ebrahim Raisi, who led the Persian nation until last month, when he died in a helicopter crash. Of the 80 candidates, the Guardian Council — a body that wields veto power over anyone who lacks Islamic credentials to be president — has allowed only six men, five of them hardline conservatives, to run.

Hence, not many surprises are expected: the two big candidates are the extremists and conservatives Mohammad Baqir Qalibaf – the current speaker of parliament – and Saeed Jalili – the former nuclear negotiator. Both are very close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Everything indicates that turnout will be very low, given the country’s serious economic crisis and the massive repression imposed by the clergy in power. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote – which is likely according to opinion polls – there will be a second round on July 5.

There is only one candidate who does not belong to the more conservative wing: Masoud Pezeshkian, a professional surgeon and parliamentarian who was little-known until a few weeks ago. Opinion polls place him close to Jalili and Qalibaf, but Ali Khamenei is against him. “Some politicians believe that in order for our country to advance, it must submit to foreign powers,” the Supreme Leader said this week. “Such people cannot govern our country well.”

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