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President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran arrives for his opening press conference. Photo: Sobhan Farajvan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

After eight years of near-constant attacks on President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, Iran's hardliners will control all levers of power after the election of Ebrahim Raisi as Rouhani's successor.

Why it matters: Some observers posit that the alignment between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the new hardline president will pave the way for more stability in Iran and eventually a greater willingness to engage in diplomacy.

Yes, but: The “unitary state theory" has failed previously, and the conservative camp is not entirely united.

  • Previously, Khamenei and the IRGC could stick their necks out by proxy, such as during nuclear negotiations, and still avoid the blame for any high-risk failures. Raisi’s presidency reduces this option.
  • And during the presidency of conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013), the last time hardliners had complete control, Iran slid into conservative infighting.
  • Already, the presidential candidacy of IRGC general Saeed Mohammad triggered an unprecedented public split among senior commanders. Ultimately, Mohammad was disqualified and rallied behind Raisi.

The big picture: The conservative advance was aided by the failures of the reformist movement and the policies of former U.S. President Donald Trump, including his 2018 withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. But it was marred by strikingly low voter turnout.

  • Just 48.8% of eligible voters cast ballots — down from more than 70% in the last two elections — and that drops to some 42.5% when taking into account invalid ballots.
  • The runner-up to Raisi's 62% was actually the 12% of voters who cast blank or spoiled ballots, a big spike from previous elections.

Between the lines: The authorities in Iran have long valued high turnout in presidential elections as proof of the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy.

There was significant pre-election maneuvering to ensure Raisi's election, as part of the effort to position Iran for the day the 82-year-old Khamenei passes away.

  • Damaging leaks took Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif out of the running, and the Guardian Council later eliminated other reformist candidates en masse, including former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.

What to watch: While Iran’s reform movement is on life support and in serious need of soul-searching, the conservative takeover would have a silver lining for reformists if the conservatives abstain from suppressing a movement that now seems to pose little threat.

  • However, a likely economic upturn after the revival of the nuclear deal could give the government enough capital to crack down even harder on political dissent.

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

Go deeper

Rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran hold talks in Iraq

Iraqi PM Kadhimi with Iranian President Raisi. Photo: Presidency of Iran via Getty

Officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia met this week in Baghdad for a fourth round of talks this year, following a months-long hiatus after the election of Iran's new president.

Why it matters: The meetings in Iraq constitute the first serious attempt at dialogue between the two regional rivals following years of tensions and rhetorical venom.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

3 hours ago - Technology

Race and technology in America

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The technology industry is famously determined to change the world — but its efforts to diversify its workforce and remove bias from its products haven't changed nearly enough.