After a battle marked by voter apathy over economic problems and political limitations, Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative jurist sanctioned by the US for human rights breaches, won as expected in Iran’s presidential election on Saturday.
Raisi was elected with 17.9 million votes after all 28.9 million ballots were tabulated, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli declared on state television.
In Friday’s four-man election, turnout was a record low of roughly 48.8%, and there were 3.7 million invalid ballots, most of which were presumably blank or protest votes.
Raisi, 60, had been widely expected to win the campaign, thanks to Khamenei’s endorsement, by analysts and insiders as representing the security establishment at its most menacing.
Raisi’s election was hailed by Iran’s regional allies, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and militant Islamist group Hamas. His win, according to Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard, is “a terrible reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”
“We continue to urge for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated under international law for his role in past and continuing crimes, including by governments with universal jurisdiction,” she said in a statement.
Despite this, some analysts believe his tough policies will repel international investors.
“If a deal is made, Raisi’s extreme political and economic principles would limit the possibilities for large foreign investment and further isolate Tehran from the West,” said Eurasia Group senior analyst Henry Rome.
On all matters of state, including Iran’s foreign and nuclear policies, Khamenei, not the president, has the final say.
Raisi has vowed to create millions of jobs and combat inflation in order to win over voters who are focused with everyday difficulties. However, he has not offered a specific political or economic platform.
The country’s clerical rulers had pushed citizens to vote on Friday in order to strengthen their legitimacy, but simmering discontent over economic problems and restrictions on liberties kept many Iranians at home.
The turnout, according to Khamenei, demonstrated the clerical establishment’s popularity. However, more than half of eligible voters were either too unsatisfied to vote or appeared to have obeyed calls to boycott the election by hundreds of dissidents both at home and abroad.
A lack of choice was another barrier for many pro-reform voters, as a tough electoral body prohibited heavyweight moderates and conservatives from running.
Many reformers Iranians are concerned that Raisi’s presidency will bring more tyranny.
“I’m terrified. I don’t want to return to prison. Any form of opposition, I am certain, will not be permitted “Hamidreza, 31, who did not want to provide his full name, said He was imprisoned in 2019 for his role in a riot that erupted over fuel price hikes and swiftly turned political.
Analysts believe Raisi’s election victory will improve his chances of succeeding Khamenei, who spent two terms as president before ascending to the position of supreme leader in 1989.