Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi elected Iran’s new president

Conservative judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi will take office in early August, replacing moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi
Raisi won 61.95 percent of the vote in Friday's election on a voter turnout of 48.8 percent - the lowest turnout for a presidential election since the 1979 revolution [File: Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Conservative judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi has been elected Iran’s eighth president, the interior ministry has announced.

The ministry confirmed on Saturday that Raisi won 61.95 percent of the vote on a voter turnout of 48.8 percent – the lowest turnout for a presidential election since the 1979 revolution. Raisi got 28,933,004 votes.

At 3,726,870 votes, void votes finished second in the race, also for the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic.

Former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei finished third in Friday’s election with 3,412,712 votes and was followed by moderate candidate Abdolnasswer Hemmati with 2,427,201 votes, and conservative Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi with 999,718 votes.

“We didn’t have any violation that would have a significant impact on the outcome of the election,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli said during a press conference.

Rezaei, Hemmati and Hashemi had conceded ahead of the announcement on Saturday.

Raisi will take office in early August, replacing moderate President Hassan Rouhani who was not allowed by the constitution to run for a third consecutive term.

“I congratulate the people on their choice,” said Rouhani on Saturday.

Raisi’s election marks a consolidation of power by the conservative and hardline camp, which already controls the parliament and will likely have a replacement for the judiciary as well.

The Muslim scholar, who wears a black turban to signify he is a descendent of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, is also seen as the country’s next supreme leader.

Raisi has become the first Iranian president to be sanctioned by the United States even before assuming office as he was designated in 2019.

The US blacklisted him for his role in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, his involvement in the crackdown on the 2009 Green Movement protests, and “administration of oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime”.

Raisi grew up in the northeastern city of Mashhad, an important religious centre for Shia Muslims where Imam Reza, the eighth Shia religious leader, is buried.

He attended the seminary in Qom and studied under some of Iran’s most prominent Muslim scholars, including Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

After becoming the prosecutor for several jurisdictions, Raisi moved to the capital, Tehran, in 1985 after being appointed deputy prosecutor.

After moving up the ranks in the judicial system, in March 2016 he was appointed by the supreme leader as the custodian of the Astan-e Quds Razavi, the influential shrine of Imam Reza, where he controlled billions of dollars in assets.

He had run for president unsuccessfully against Rouhani in 2017, garnering 38 percent of the vote.

‘Rival to corruption’

Raisi had promised to improve Iran’s economy that is ailing under US sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic that has exacerbated decades-long infrastructural issues caused by local mismanagement.

Despite previously opposing Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Raisi said during the presidential debates earlier this month that he will uphold the landmark accord as any other state commitment.

He did, however, point out that he will form a “strong” government to steer the agreement in the right direction.

Source: Al Jazeera