Iranians vote in presidential election with limited choices

Iranians chose a new President on Friday following the death Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter accident. They selected from a group of four loyal candidates to the Supreme Leader. This was at a period of increasing public frustration and Western pressurization.

The election coincides both with an escalating tension in the region due to the war between Israel and Iran’s allies Hamas and Hezbollah, in Gaza and Lebanon respectively, and increased Western pressure against Iran for its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

The election will not bring about a major change in the Islamic Republic’s policies. However, the outcome of the vote could have an impact on the succession of Ayatollah Khamenei. Iran’s 85-year old supreme leader who has been in power since 1989.

Khamenei called on a large turnout in order to counter a crisis of legitimacy fuelled by the public’s discontent with economic hardships and restrictions on social and political freedom.

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Khamenei said on state television that the strength, durability, dignity, and reputation of Islamic Republic depends on the presence of people. “High participation is essential.”

Khamenei, the head of state, is expected to continue to make all decisions on the top issues. This includes Iran’s nuclear program and support for militia groups in the Middle East.

The president is in charge of the day-today running of the government and has the power to influence Iran’s domestic and foreign policy.

Only six candidates were approved from a pool of 80 by a hardline watchdog group consisting of six clerics, six jurists, and six jurists who are aligned to Khamenei. Afterwards, two hardline candidates dropped out.