From Grief to Ballot: Voter Apathy Looms as Iran Races to Choose Raisi’s Successor

Amidst regional tensions and voter apathy, Iran races to elect a new president following Ebrahim Raisi's tragic death, with the powerful Guardian Council set to handpick candidates for the nation's third early election.

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Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network is the in-house news collection and distribution agency.

For the election that will take place on June 28 to select the ninth president, Iranians are getting ready to choose a successor to the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who passed away suddenly in an aircraft crash on May 19. According to the timeline, the Guardian Council is scheduled to announce the final list of candidates on Tuesday, June 11. The Iranian Ministry of Interior will publish the names of the candidates. Campaigns for the election will begin on June 12 and continue until June 27.

According to statements made by Mohammad Taqi Shahcheraghi, the head of the Iranian Election Committee, there will be sixty thousand polling locations around the country for the presidential elections. In the event that the election results are not conclusive, the second round of voting will take place on the following Friday, July 5.

Key facts to know about this election:

1. The presidential election is an early election that was initially planned for June 2025, owing to the president’s death. It follows the legislative elections in March 2024, which also came after a women’s-led protest movement that shook Iran at the end of 2022 following the death of young Mahsa Amini, who died days after being detained by the morality police for violating strict dress codes in the Islamic Republic. These protests were marked by cautious calm domestically.

2. This marks the third early election in the nation’s history. Tehran has a distinguished record of conducting early presidential elections in response to the deaths or assassinations of presidents. Mohammad Ali Rajai, the second president of the Islamic Republic, was among them. Rajai was elected in August 1981 and was assassinated a month later, on August 30, 1981, in an explosion orchestrated by the opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq. Ali Khamenei was elected as the third president of Iran in September 1981 following an early presidential election. Khamenei was elected Supreme Leader in 1989 following the death of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini. He resigned from the presidency in August of that year following the election of a new president.  

3. Regionally, the elections come amid anticipation following the public revelation of the covert war between Tehran and Israel, marked by direct strikes exchanged between the two sides in an unprecedented event in mid-April 2024. This occurred after an Israeli assault on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which resulted in the deaths of numerous Iranian military personnel. The Israeli attacks on Iranian elements have persisted, with a strike in northern Aleppo, Syria, this June resulting in the death of Iranian military advisor Saeed Abiyar. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander, Major General Hossein Salami, issued a threat to Israel, stating, “Israel should anticipate a response.”

4. Even though anyone can register as a candidate, the Islamic Republic of Iran requires the Guardian Council’s approval before anyone can compete for election. The Council, composed of 12 members, is a group of legal specialists who are strongly aligned with the conservative faction and have the final authority to approve candidates. To be eligible for the presidency, candidates must have served in military, academic, or governmental capacities. Regardless of whether the elections are presidential or parliamentary, the Guardian Council determines the eligibility of candidates or excludes them. As a result, the Council will confirm only 4 or 5 of the 80 candidates who submitted their nominations last week, and they will be forwarded to the Ministry of Interior for the final announcement of candidates.

5. Voter turnout may pose the greatest obstacle subsequent to the legislative elections of March 2024, which reported the lowest participation rate. According to the Ministry of Interior, the turnout was 41% nationwide, the lowest in the Republic’s history. This represents a decrease of more than 1.5% from the 2020 elections. Observers ascribed this to the widespread exclusion of reformist candidates and public dissatisfaction in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death in 2022. The position of conservative hardliners in the 12th Parliament was fortified.

Mansour Haghighatpour, a former member of the Iranian parliament, asserted in an article published in the reformist newspaper Arman-e Emrooz that voter participation is the primary concern in the forthcoming presidential election, particularly in light of the low turnout in the most recent legislative elections. He underscored the necessity of oversight bodies such as the Guardian Council and other institutions to enhance the motivation of citizens to vote.


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