The Herald on Sunday
Hardline Raisi wins landslide victory in Iran election
IRAN’S hardline judiciary chief won a landslide victory on Saturday in the country’s presidential election.
It was a vote that both propelled the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position and saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.
The election of Ebrahim Raisi, already sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competition found themselves disqualified from running.
That sparked calls for a boycott and many apparently did stay home. Out of more than 59 million eligible voters, only 28.9 million voted.
Of those voting, some 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, far beyond the amount seen in previous elections and suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates.
Iranian state television immediately blamed challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and US sanctions for the low turnout.
But the turnout and voided ballots suggested a wider unhappiness with the tightly controlled election, as activists criticised Raisi’s ascension.
Amnesty International’s secretary-general, Agnes Callamard, said: “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”
In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, nearly 62 per cent of the total 28.9 million cast.
Had the voided ballots gone to a candidate, that person would have come in second place. Following Raisi was former hardline Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei with 3.4 million votes.
Former central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati came in third with 2.4 million votes.
Interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who gave the results, did not explain the high number of voided ballots.
“I hope I can respond well to the people’s confidence, vote and kindness during my term,” Raisi said.