SRINAGAR: The former head of Iran’s judiciary Ebrahim Raisi is the new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has polled more than 90% of the 28.6 million ballots counted, global news gatherer Reuters said.
Turnout in Friday’s four-man race was a record low of around 48%.
Raisi, 60, has so far received more than 17.8 million out of the 28.6 million votes that have been counted with other contenders already conceding defeat.
Raisi is considered to be close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei. He is being termed as ultra-conservative.
Raisi was born in 1960 in a small village near the holy city of Mashhad, which is Iran’s second-biggest city. As a teenager, he entered a seminary in Qom, where he studied under Khamenei and participated in protests against the shah. His judicial career began in 1981 when Raisi was appointed prosecutor of the city of Karaj. In 1985, he was shifted to Tehran as First Deputy to the Head of Judiciary from 2004 to 2014 after which he became the Prosecutor General of Iran from 2014 to 2016. He was appointed the head of Iran’s judiciary in 2019. A hard-liner, Raisi unsuccessfully contested against incumbent Hassan Rouhani.
For his actions, he has been singled out by various human rights watchdogs as well.
Mohsen Rezaei, former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps received more than 3.3 million votes. He was followed by former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, the only moderate in the race, with at least 2.4 million votes, and conservative lawmaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi with more than one million votes.
Even as the votes were being counted, Hemmati congratulated Raisi for winning the election.
“I hope your government, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will bring comfort and prosperity to our nation,” former central bank chief Hemmati said in a letter.
Raisi did not immediately acknowledge Hemmati’s concession, nor that of Rezaei, who also conceded defeat.
Hashemi explicitly congratulated Raisi. “I congratulate … Raisi, elected by the nation,” Hashemi said.
In a statement, outgoing President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the people of Iran and the supreme leader for an “epic and rare presence” in the elections, saying “your glorious and enemy-breaking participation led to the remorse and dejection of enemies and those who wish ill on this nation”.
Earlier Rouhani congratulated “the people’s elected [president]”, without naming Raisi.
The interior ministry refused to confirm reports that the number of void votes exceeded Rezaei’s vote haul. If true, that would mean for the first time in the history of the Islamic republic, bad votes have finished second place.
In this election, there were more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran whose population is more than 80 million people. There were a total of seven presidential candidates approved by Iran’s Guardian Council to run out of 592 who registered, with three later dropping out at the last moment. However, zero women out of the 40 who registered approved to run for the presidency.
As per the country’s constitution, there is a four-year term for an elected Iranian president with an individual allowed only two terms in a row.
The just-concluded exercise is being seen not as a huge success as more than half of the voters stayed home. Voter turnout was 48.8 per cent, the lowest since the 1979 revolution. Total votes cast 28.9 million of which Ebrahim Raeisi garnered 17.9 million, followed by Mohsen Rezaei at a distant second with 3.4 million, Hemmati 2.4 million and Qazizadeh around one million. The less than 50 per cent turnout is far lower than the 73 per cent of 2013 and 2017, and around the level of 51 per cent back in 1989 when Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani won a second term.
AFP reported the populist former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of those barred from running by the Guardian Council of clerics and jurists, saying: “I do not want to have a part in this sin”.
Three of the vetted candidates dropped out of the race two days before Friday’s election.