The 60-year-old chief justice failed four years ago because of Rouhani, this time his path to the presidential office was much easier. This was also ensured by the so-called Guardian Council, which, as an electoral body, settled serious competitors before the ballot box. This has also led to violent protests in their own ranks – and to a great lack of interest on the part of the people in an election that was widely seen as orderly and undemocratic.
Accordingly, the 48.9 percent turnout was the lowest ever in a presidential election in the country – and was more than 20 percent lower than it was four years ago. In the capital, Tehran, voter turnout was said to be lower. In addition, according to the news portal “Khabar Online”, nearly four million blank ballot papers were submitted in protest. Observers interpret the low turnout among more than 59 million voters as a boycott of the elections and a warning sign for the entire institution.
With Raisi, there will be a change of political power in Iran soon. “I’m trying to solve all the knots,” he said after winning the election. Exactly how he wants to do it, he will explain on Sunday at his first press conference. As a long-running attorney general, judge and chief justice since 2019, Raisi has little political experience. Now he is already facing various challenges at the beginning of his term: According to the media and observers, the deeply conservative cleric will not continue Rouhani’s moderate path as president.
During the election campaign, the main promised a quick end to the stifling economic crisis. To do so, however, he would have to make an immediate decision on the future of the 2015 Vienna nuclear agreement. After the United States withdrew from the international agreement in 2018, Tehran gradually lifted agreed restrictions and controls on nuclear facilities. Not least that US sanctions have led to a severe economic crisis in Iran. In order for the agreement to continue—and until the crisis is over—negotiations with the archenemy, the United States, will be necessary.
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So far it is not clear how Raisi, as a candidate for the hardliners, would justify negotiations with the “Great Satan”. His future Secretary of State and chief nuclear negotiator will play an important role in this, as the two will have to lead negotiations with the United States. Al Raisi is also on the EU and US sanctions list for human rights violations. It remains to be seen whether the Europeans and Americans are willing to negotiate with him under these circumstances.
In Middle East politics, observers under the president expect a more radical approach and, with regard to Israel, a more aggressive one than before. It is also likely to continue to support anti-Israel militias and Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad, on a more consistent basis.
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