Iranians head to polls to elect new president
Tehran, Jun 18 (EFE).- Iran’s polling stations opened on Friday for citizens to elect a new president for the next four years.
Four candidates – three conservatives and a moderate – are in the running for the presidency after the resignation of three others, with the ultra-conservative cleric and current chief justice, Ebrahim Raisi, starting as favorite.
His rivals are Abdolnaser Hemmati, former governor of the Central Bank of Iran and the only moderate; Mohsen Rezaee, current secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council and former commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard; and fellow conservative and first deputy speaker of parliament, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi.
Current president Hassan Rouhani, in office since 2013, was not eligible to run, having already served two consecutive terms.
Election day started at 7 am local time (03:30 BST) with the opening of the polling stations, which will receive voters until midnight. According to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the deadline may be extended until 2 am.
As usual, the first to vote was the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who said that Friday will determine the destiny of the country for the next years.
More than 59 million Iranians were called to the polls, but voter turnout is expected to be low due to widespread social discontent and apathy, and the absence of strong reformist or moderate candidates.
A poll published Wednesday by state television pointed to 46 percent participation, although others have offered lower numbers.
The aforementioned poll also gave a clear victory to Raisi, who is expected to get at least 57.3 percent of the votes.
Presidential elections are held simultaneously with municipal elections and by-elections of some members of parliament and of the Assembly of Experts deliberative body.