Iran election race narrows as contenders drop out
June 17, 2021 - Iran’s presidential contest is heading to a showdown between the country’s hardline chief justice and its moderate former Central Bank governor, as three alternative candidates drop out.
The only reformist candidate, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, has withdrawn from the race, along with hardline contender Alireza Zakani and Saeed Jalili, who was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Just four candidates approved by Iran’s Guardian Council -- the 12-member clerical vetting body -- remain in the race.
The Guardian Council’s disqualification of moderates, reformists and allies of outgoing President Hassan Rouhani has sparked widespread criticism and fuelled calls for a boycott.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei railed against the media’s portrayal of voter apathy in a televised speech. Khamenei warned of “increased pressure” from Iran’s “enemies” if citizens stay away from the polls on Friday (June 18).
The state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has most recently projected a 42 per cent turnout from the country’s 59 million eligible voters, which would be a historic low.
In his weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Rouhani urged people to vote, state TV reported.