Published date: 18 June 2021 12:00 UTC Last update:4 weeks 1 day ago
Iranians headed to the polls on Friday to vote in presidential elections, with a low turnout and victory for the conservative candidate expected.
Ebrahim Raisi, a senior cleric and the current chief justice of Iran, is predicted to win the presidency after the country's Guardian Council barred most reformist candidates from running in the election.
President Hassan Rouhani registering to vote at the interior ministry in the Tehran, on 18 June 2021 (AFP/Iranian presidency handout)
Anger and apathy have greeted the limited offering and polls signal the turnout may drop below the 43 percent of last year's parliamentary election before the scheduled close of polls at midnight (1930 GMT).
In addition, numerous opposition groups have called for a boycott.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cast the first vote in Tehran before urging Iran's nearly 60 million eligible voters to do likewise.
"The sooner you perform this task and duty, the better," he said.
Iran's economy has crumbled under years of sanctions. It is also facing one of the worst Covid-19 crises in the region and public anger over widespread corruption.
Whoever wins will take over as president from Hassan Rouhani, who ran as a moderate in 2013 but has been widely criticised for failing to live up to his promises, especially after the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Rouhani told the public on Friday: "Elections are important no matter what, and despite these problems we must go and vote," adding that he would have liked to see "more people present" at polling stations.
'Absolutely I will not vote'
Results are expected to come in around midday on Saturday, and if no clear winner emerges a runoff will be held a week later.
From almost 600 hopefuls who originally sought to run for the presidency, only seven were eventually approved.
Among those disqualified were conservative former parliament speaker Ali Larijani and populist ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the end, the only candidate running from Iran's reformist camp was former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati.
Iran elections: Voters plan boycott over lack of choice