Iranians to vote in hardline-dominated presidential elections

By Marina Villen

Tehran, Jun 17 (EFE).- Over 59 million Iranians have been called to the polls on Friday to elect a new president, in a race dominated by conservative candidates and fears of low voter turnout.

Only four hopefuls are vying to succeed President Hassan Rouhani, after three candidates dropped out at the last minute.

Ebrahim Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric and the current head of Iran’s judiciary, is predicted to win, according to a poll by state-owned PressTV that indicated he would get 57.3% of the vote.

Raisi is challenged by former governor of Iran’s central bank and reformist candidate Abdolnaser Hemmati, former Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaee, and conservative politician Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi.

Dropouts are common in Iranian presidential elections. Low-profile candidates tend to withdraw just days ahead of the vote to boost the chances of like-minded contenders.

Ultraconservatives Saeed Jalili and Alireza Zakani pulled out of the race and urged their supporters to vote for Raisi.

“Now a significant part of society has been showing interest toward dear brother Ebrahim Raisi,” Jalili said after his resignation.

Determined to make their preferred candidate win, a group of 210 Iranian lawmakers on Wednesday asked conservative candidates to withdraw from the race to clear the path for Raisi.

Backers of the 60-year-old gathered in Tehran’s Palestine Square with posters of Raisi and Iranian flags on Thursday, in a show of support for the hardliner.

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