Conservative cleric Raisi wins a landslide victory in the Iran poll

Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and head of justice, won Iran’s presidential election in a tremendous victory that will give the kingdom’s rulers total control of all branches of the state for the first time in almost a decade.

Raisi, who many Iranians believe was the favorite candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, secured nearly 18 million votes after 90 percent of the votes in Friday’s election were counted.

His closest rival, Mohsen Rezaei, a former conservative general, won just 3.3 million votes, while the only reformist candidate, Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former central bank governor, won 2.4 million.

The cleric’s victory means the hardliners, who won a major majority in last year’s parliamentary elections and control justice and the army, are now the most powerful since 2013. The reformists, who favor a commitment major with the West, they have been pushed to the margins.

Elections were held at a critical time for the Islamic Republic and the region. The Biden administration seeks to alleviate tensions in the Middle East, which was fueled by Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran and impose sanctions on the nation.

Raisi said his government will continue negotiations with the remaining signatories to the agreement – the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

But tough people will want to negotiate on their terms, as the second and final term of the centrist government of President Hassan Rouhani ends in August. The Raisi election, which has led justice for the past two years and has been the subject of sanctions by the Trump administration in 2019, since it has targeted dozens of senior regime officials, risks complicating these discussions. .

Raisi’s victory means Iran will be even more unlikely to bolster its support for militant groups across the region or halt its extensive missile program.

President Joe Biden has vowed to renounce the nuclear deal if Tehran returns in full compliance with the deal. But his administration is under pressure from U.S. politicians, Israel and Washington’s Arab partners to take a hard line on Iran’s support for militias and its missile program.

Raisi said national policies would be his priority. It faces the daunting task of reviving an economy paralyzed by coronavirus sanctions and pandemics, infesting social pressures and a deep sense of disillusionment with the theocratic system among many Iranians.

Schisms in society have been underscored by participation.

Iranian media have said that conservatives have voted a lot. But Iranians who want reform have registered their disillusionment with the theocratic system by staying at home, in what pro-democracy activists have described as an act of civil disobedience.

Poor turnout would undermine popular legitimacy Iranian leaders are seeking to reclaim elections at a time when the gap between the regime’s ideology and policies, and the aspirations of the young population is widening.

Conservative analysts said Raisi would probably be closer to Khamenei’s thinking than Rouhani, who wanted to use the nuclear deal to reactivate it with the West before Trump imposed his “maximum pressure” campaign.

Unlike his predecessor, Raisi will not attempt to diminish the role of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, who dominate overseas military operations and control a home-based economic empire.

“Raisi’s background in the judiciary tells us that he is obedient to those above him, but very strict with those closest to him,” a reformist politician said.

“Two good years in the judiciary is similar to a period of rosy engagement. From now on, it’s like after marriage that comes with all the realities and disappointments.”

Raisi made few comments on foreign policy and said his focus will be on stimulating Iran’s industrial production and alleviating economic pressures on Iranians.

Conservatives hope he will bring unity to the system of government after Rouhani’s last term was shaken by bitter internal clashes. Trump’s hostility toward Iran has encouraged the hardliners who accused the centrist government and its reformist supporters of trusting the United States.

But reformers are worried that the victory of the hardliners will aggravate the problems of the country and restore any persistent hope of gradual reform.

“Reformers need to prepare for a tough political era. . . and not to succumb to this result, ”said Abbas Abdi, reformist commentator.

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