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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

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."