Jun 19, 2021 - World

Conservative cleric Raisi elected Iran's president

Raisi gives a press conference after voting. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty

Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi easily won Friday's presidential election in Iran, recording 62% of the vote with more than 90% of ballots counted.

Why it matters: Currently the head of Iran's judiciary, Raisi is a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has the support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). His victory solidifies him as a leading candidate to succeed Khamenei, though Friday's low turnout speaks to the disillusionment of many Iranian voters.

  • A U.S. official told Axios on Friday that the Biden administration wants to finalize an agreement with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal before Raisi takes power six weeks from now.
  • The latest: The more moderate outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani, met Raisi on Saturday and congratulated him on his victory.

Driving the news: Turnout was just under 50% according to Iranian media reports, much lower than in previous elections. The polls were kept open for an additional two hours to drive that number up.

  • Iran's Guardian Council had disqualified all of the leading reformist candidates, essentially clearing the field for Raisi.
  • Former central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati attempted to take up the reformist mantle, but he reportedly finished a distant second with only around 2.5 million votes (9%) vs. 18 million for Raisi.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to congratulate Raisi. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah were also quick to offer congratulations.

What's next: Raisi is expected to be sworn in during the first week of August.

Go deeper: U.S. wants nuclear deal done before Iran's new president takes power

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