Moderate Iran candidate concedes win by judiciary chief

Moderate Iran candidate concedes win by judiciary chief

Moderate Iran candidate concedes win by judiciary chief

For an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions, the lack of choice at the ballot box means a vote serves little objective, analysts of Iranian politics say.

Regardless of who wins, Khamenei remains Iran's ultimate decision-maker in matters of foreign and nuclear policy.

Iran's sitting president, Hassan Rouhani, is not taking part in the 2021 election, as his second tenure is coming to an end.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran's last presidential election in 2017.

Iranian opposition groups overseas and some dissidents at home have urged a boycott of the vote they see as an engineered victory for Mr. Raisi, the 60-year-old head of the judiciary, to cement ultraconservative control.

Polls close at midnight (1930 GMT), and possibly two hours later, with results expected around noon Saturday.

The vote "is set to be the least competitive election in the Islamic Republic's history", wrote Torbjorn Soltvedt, an analyst at the risk consultancy firm Verisk Maplecroft.

A win for Raisi would confirm the political demise of pragmatist politicians like Rouhani, weakened by the USA decision to quit the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions in a move that stifled rapprochement with the West.

If none of them wins an outright majority, a runoff election would be held one week later. "Raisi will be the next president whether we vote or not", said an Iranian journalist who asked not to be named due to security concerns.

Opinion polling by state-linked organizations, along with analysts, indicated that Raisi - who is under US sanctions for his role in mass executions - was the front-runner in a field of only four candidates.

Initially, there were seven candidates for the presidential post in Iran, but only four have continued to compete for the position.

Despite this, there is broad agreement among all the election candidates that the country of 83 million must seek an end to the painful USA sanctions in ongoing talks in Vienna aiming to revive the nuclear deal.

Raisi says he backs Iran's talks with major powers to revive the nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions. That's coupled with public anger for Rouhani, whose signature 2015 nuclear deal collapsed after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018.

Trump said the JCPOA did not do enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons - a goal it denies having - or engaging in other objectionable activities.

Farhad Rezaei, an Iranian politics professor at Canada's York University, told VOA Persian TV in another Friday interview that an election victory for Raisi, a more conservative figure than the outgoing Rouhani, could make it tougher for Biden to persuade Iran to reach a follow-up agreement to the JCPOA.

Khamenei also served as president when he took over in 1989 from the Islamic republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khamenei served as Iranian president himself before being appointed supreme leader in 1989.

A close Khamenei ally and like him a harsh critic of the West, Raisi is under USA sanctions for alleged involvement in executions of political prisoners decades ago.

"If Khamenei deems Raisi a success, I think he will propose Raisi to succeed him".

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