As was widely predicted, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline conservative, won last Friday’s Iranian presidential election in a landslide and will succeed Hassan Rouhani as president in August. However, the historically low turnout of voters and highest ever informal vote clearly demonstrated Raisi’s low public appeal and serious disillusionment with the regime’s policies.
Although the Guardian Council approved seven candidates to contest the election, only four did so. Like Raisi, two of them were conservatives: Mohsen Rezaei, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; and the first deputy speaker of the parliament, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi. The sole reformist was Abdolnaser Hemmati, who until recently was governor of Iran’s central bank. The other three approved candidates, two conservatives and one reformist, withdrew shortly before election day. This is a common tactic to avoid splitting the vote among like-minded candidates or avoid an embarrassing defeat.
Although Raisi was the clear winner, the votes tell the story. According to available statistics, of Iran’s 59 million eligible voters, only 28.5 million, or some 48%, voted, the lowest percentage ever. And in Tehran, only 26% voted.
However, 3.7 million votes were declared void, the highest number ever. In effect, only 24.7 million valid votes were cast, representing about 42% of eligible voters.