Leaders urge public to vote in Iranian elections

Iranians will cast their votes tomorrow to decide the next President of Iran, with senior political figures urging the public to vote, in the hope of achieving a high turnout.

In a televised speech on Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the Iranian public to vote, saying the US and its allies, including the “pathetic Prime Minister of the Zionist regime”, will be watching.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said turnout is expected to exceed 70 per cent.

The four candidates Iranians will choose from are: Hassan Rouhani, current President; Astan Quds Razavi Custodian Ebrahim Raisi, a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Former Culture Minister Mostafa Mir-Salim; and Mostafa Hashemitaba, a pro-reform figure who previously ran in 2001.

If none of the four candidates win more than 50 per cent of the vote, a run-off will be held on 26 May. It is however, expected that Mir-Salim and Hashemitaba will drop out, making the election a choice between the incumbent President and hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

The election will be in part a vote on President Rouhani’s policy of engagement with the West, including the nuclear deal signed in July 2015.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which set forth a plan according to which sanctions on Iran would be lifted in return for verifiable curbs on its nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1. Iran has received an economic boost from the lifting of sanctions, but is frustrated by the continuing reluctance of foreign firms to do business with it.

Raisi has agreed to adhere to the terms of the nuclear deal, but has argued that President Rouhani is “too trustful” of the West, stating that they “should not show any weakness in the face of the enemy,” in a recent televised debate.

Another major issue in the elections is unemployment, with the unemployment rate reaching 13 per cent overall, and up to 42 per cent among those with a university degree.

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