The hardliner leader Ebrahim Raisi is set to become the new president of Iran following the elections held on June 18. According to reports, he has bagged more than 60 percent of the vote. The total turnout is yet to be released however, media sources have claimed that less than 50 percent of the population came out to vote in the presidential elections. Meanwhile, Iran’s outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani congratulated Raisi, who will officially sit in the country’s second-highest office from August.
Raisi will become the President of Iran amid heightened tensions with the US, sanctions from America’s Western allies and a bitter foe in Israel.
Who is Ebrahim Raisi?
The 60-year-old Ebrahim Raisi, a close confidant of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has served most of his career in Iran’s judiciary. An Islamic cleric and ultraconservative, Raisi had been linked to a mass execution in 1988, where he had allegedly ordered the killing of thousands of political prisoners believed to be involved in the Iran-Iraq war. Raisi, who had fielded himself as the presidential candidate in 2017 for the first time against Rouhani, is also apparently close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was appointed as the Chief Justice of Iran in 2019.
For the 2021 elections, Guardian Council – the so-called ‘election watchdog’ of Iran – chose only seven candidates after rejecting nearly 600 candidates including dozens of women. The selected individuals were: Mohsen Mehralizadeh, Mohsen Rezaei, Saeed Jalili, Ebrahim Raisi, Alireza Zakani, Seyed Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi and Abdolnaser Hemmati. During the presidential elections, the former bureaucrat Abdolnaser Hemmati was the main contender against Raisi, but he finished third with 8.4 percent votes after Mohsen Rezaei, who managed to gain more than 10 percent of the total votes.
A significant number of voters in Iran did not participate in the national poll as they believed that it was already rigged. Iran has nearly 60 million eligible voters out of which around 28 million exercised their rights in this election. Amid the reports of rigging polls, Raisi claimed landslide victory with gaining nearly 18 million votes.
What Does Raisi’s Incoming Mean For Iran?
Raisi has inherited a mismanaged, corrupted country and a crumbling economy from his successor Hassan Rouhani. Political experts believe that reviving the country’s economy and generating employment would be the biggest challenge before the new president of Iran.
Political activists, lawyers, professors and liberal Iranians have cited concerns that a win for Raisi would allow more radical people into the central politics of the country. It is also believed that the Raisi-led government would limit the people’s basic rights, jobs for women, and mean sanctions on social media and the press.
However, it would be interesting to see how Raisi, who has already presented himself as an anti-corruption crusader and claims to have the solution to the country’s economic crisis, would pull Iran out from sanctions places by the US and other Western countries.
What Does Raisi’s Incoming Mean For Iran’s Global Relations?
The US and its Western allies do not have an amicable relationship with Raisi, who has already been under the EU’s sanctions since 2011. The US also imposed sanctions against Raisi in 2019 for alleged human rights violations.
The US has expressed its extreme indignation after Raisi’s win, saying that the people of Iran were denied their rights to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process.
The indirect talks to revive the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) between Iran and the US could be affected after Raisi’s win. A BBC report has speculated that the talks might be halted for the next couple of weeks and possibly no agreement before Raisi takes charge in August.
Experts believe that Iran will seek help from China and Russia to revive its crumbling economy, which would deteriorate relations with the US and the West.
Raisi’s win is also not a good sign for the Middle East. Soon after his victory, Lebanon’s radical Shiite militant group congratulated Ebrahim Raisi, describing him as a “shield” against Israel.
Hamas has also welcomed Raisi’s victory. Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has already intimated that things could get worse with Raisi at the helm. Last week, after taking office, Bennett termed Raisi as a “mass murderer”.
Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other gulf countries are yet comment on Raisi’s win.