Iranians vote for new president in negotiations to save nuclear deal and revive economy

Tehran — Iranians voted in presidential election on Friday Greatly distorted in support of hardlinersWhen Tehran negotiates a resurgence of international nuclear trade that will free the country’s economy from crushing US sanctions.

In the weeks leading up to electionOpinion polls have shown that millions of Iranians have planned to boycott votes after the country’s electoral authorities have disqualified almost all non-conservative candidates. The ballot had four options, including a super-conservative priest who was hostile to the United States and the western powers, which emerged as the leading candidates after the mass disqualification of candidates.

Results and total number of voters will be announced in a day or two.

Iran’s Ministry of Interior has extended its voting time several times, as many polling stations in the capital Tehran began to line up as the sun went down and the temperature dropped after low turnout in the early afternoon. At 7:30 pm local time, about 22 million people, or 37% of voters, cast ballots, according to Fars News Agency.

The turnout of the last presidential election in 2017 was 73%. Iranian authorities have traditionally advertised high turnout as evidence of lasting legitimacy among Islamic republican citizens.

Voters registered to vote on Friday.

The polling place was officially closed at 2 am, but the Home Office ordered that it continue to receive ballots as long as there were voters. It is not uncommon for Iran to extend voting time.

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called on the Iranians to vote to strengthen the system when they voted early on Friday. “All votes are important,” Khamenei said in a statement on television. “Today belongs to people. You can build the future by appearing in the ballot box and voting.”

Prior to voting, Khamenei accused foreign media of low turnout.

Iranian factions can be broadly divided into two main camps. Right-wing hardliners and liberal reformers, moderate practitioners such as the current president Hassan Rouhani take a neutral position.

The review process narrowed the choices between moderates and reformers and exacerbated the feeling among many Iranians that they were on the sidelines by the establishment of Iranian authoritarian clergy. According to polls, the election was now a battle between the essentially conservative Ebrahim Raishi and the only non-conservative candidate, the centrist Abdel Nasser Hematy.

The conservative Ebrahim Raisi is a leading candidate for Iran’s elections.

Elections took place while Iran and the United States were negotiating terms Revive the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreementThe Trump administration ended in 2018 before imposing severe economic sanctions. Since April, negotiators from Iran, the United States, Europe, Russia and China have met in Vienna to agree on how the United States will return to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran, recently with significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear weapons. Enrichment activities stipulated in the agreement to roll back violations of.

Iran’s foreign policy, especially its relationship with Washington, is determined by the Supreme Leader. But as Rouhani persuaded Khamenei to support negotiations leading to the 2015 agreement, the country’s president set the direction of Iran’s foreign policy priorities and influenced the Supreme Leader. Can be given.

Leading candidate Raishi is the country’s Supreme Court judge and is close to Khamenei, who has allegations of US and Western power he shares. He came out in support of the nuclear deal, reflecting his position as the Supreme Leader.

Khamenei supports the resurgence of the deal, so the change of president is unlikely to have a dramatic impact on Tehran’s position in the negotiations. In particular, the economic benefits of lifting US sanctions will be boosted early in Mr. Raisi’s term.

Hematy also said he would invite Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to the Cabinet as his role or vice president. This indicates that the current administration will continue to focus on improving Iran’s foreign relations and supporting nuclear diplomacy.

Former central bank governor Abdel Nasser Hematy, who has established himself as a reform-friendly moderate, is Raisi’s main challenger.

In recent weeks, the delegation of Vienna has been working as close as possible to an agreement before the Iranian elections to ensure that the transition to Tehran’s new administration causes as little delay and uncertainty as possible. Made the final push. Some European diplomats hope to close the negotiations by early July, before the new president takes office.

The resurgence of the nuclear agreement was not a central election issue in the debate and campaigns leading up to the election. The new president must follow the instructions of the Supreme Leader, and candidates across the political spectrum agree that it is in Iran’s interest to stay in agreement to ensure the lifting of U.S. sanctions. .. For many, the economic downturn was of utmost concern.

33-year-old Mahmood Ebrahim Saniabadi said he voted for following the guidance of the Supreme Leader, saying that the vote allowed Iran to remain a republic as well as Islam. He said he cast a ballot for Mr. Raisi because he trusted him to improve the lives of the Iranians. “It’s under the Iranians who line up for chicken and oil,” Sania Buddy said.

On Friday, Mr. Raishi tried to address some of those concerns. “People are right to be upset because of some shortages and problems,” he said. “But they shouldn’t get angry with the ballot box,” Laisi told reporters Friday morning after throwing ballots at a mosque in the suburbs of southern Tehran.

Although 60-year-old Raishi has little political experience, he is known as a hardliner who has presided over the suppression of political objections and the mass arrest of opposition activists during his long career in the judicial system.

Supporters of Mr. Raishi during an election campaign rally in Tehran.

In the conservative eastern city of Mashad, home to Mr. Raisi, banners and posters sought to summon voters to gather voters by summoning Major Kasem Soleimani, the most popular and supreme military commander. Killed in a U.S. drone attack in Iraq last year. One of the city’s subway posters featured a photo of General Soleimani, comparing the voting booth to the battlefield. “Don’t leave the field empty.”

Hematy is a former central bank governor and has established himself as a reform-friendly moderate in support of Iranian social and political freedom. He also has limited political experience, but the 64-year-old is closely associated with the resignation of Rouhani, a moderate who has now reached his two-term limit.

The lack of political experience of the candidate was an advantage for Tehran’s 37-year-old computer expert Mahmood Shoge, who voted for Hemmati. “He said he started flipping old structures over. It’s not an easy task,” Shojaee said. “But I support the desire. At least it can open the gap of hope for greater change.”

Mr. Hematy’s main hurdle is Technocrats with few membersIs to persuade people to get out and vote. High turnout has traditionally benefited reformers and moderates, as their voters are likely to boycott elections in protest of how the country operates.

In a recent poll conducted by the Iranian Student Voting Bureau before the election day, 44% of Iranians plan to vote, which is a historic low, of which 64% vote for Mr. Raishi. I answered. Hematy polled at about 4%.

Hematy seems to have had some success with the last-minute Iranians who changed their minds. Tahere Agaei, a 29-year-old employee of the insurance company, said he decided to support him on election day because of his generous view of economic policy and social freedom.

Hemmati’s supporters during a street rally in Tehran.

“I didn’t want to vote at first,” she said. “But as I approached Friday in the last few days, I started to worry. I chose Hematy because I thought I should play a part.”

The new president faces pressing domestic and international challenges.

He and his government need to take steps to boost the economy while checking the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent years, while growth has stagnated due to US sanctions, the unemployment rate is high and the value of local currencies is plummeting. The economic crisis is driving more families into poverty. It urged the Iranians to protest on the streets, where they encountered brutal forces by security forces.

He will also have to fight more tension in the area.Iran has Israel as its nuclear facility Killed top nuclear scientists last year.. Israel, which opposes the nuclear deal, refused to comment on the allegations.

Sogol, a 36-year-old housewife and mother of four who voted for Raishi, is in charge of the large Astan Drazabi Charity Foundation in Mashad and Rouhani’s older brother.

“When he says he’ll do something, he’ll do it,” she said. “His ethics will be a model for society.”

Rouhani’s first path to power in 2013 should give Hematy optimistic reasons. A week before that year’s election, Rouhani also voted in single digits. He later won an overwhelming victory with over 50% of the votes cast.

Following news that the United States is ready to resume nuclear negotiations with Iran in the coming weeks, WSJ’s Gerald F. Save explains one tactic that could facilitate diplomacy between the two countries.Photo Illustration: Laura Kammerman

Write to Sune Engel Rasmussen at

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Iranians vote for new president in negotiations to save nuclear deal and revive economy

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