Polls Open for Voting in Iran Presidential Election
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranians began voting in the early hours of Friday in a contest among 4 candidates in the 13th presidential elections and also for the 6th Islamic city and village council elections across the country.
State television showed people's presence at polling stations in several cities and towns, quoting officials that over 59 million Iranians out of the more than 85 million population are eligible to vote.
“59,310,307 million people are eligible to cast vote in the 2021 presidential election,” Spokesman of the Election Office of the Iranian Interior Ministry Esmayeel Mousavi said.
Officials have said that over 75,000 voting stations receive people's votes all over the country.
Also, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that 234 polling stations will be available for the country’s expatriates to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Khatibzadeh stressed that the foreign ministry is responsible for holding elections abroad in accordance with the law, adding, “234 poll stations will be available for Iranians abroad and more than 600,000 voting tariffs have already been sent to the related areas.”
He went on to say that according to unofficial statistics more than 3 million Iranian expatriates are eligible to vote.
“3 countries, including Canada, have refused to cooperate with Iran in this process,” the spokesman said, criticizing that Canada not only refuses to cooperate with Iran on the issue of elections, but also it fails to meet the rights of Iranian citizens.
Khatibzadeh said that ballot boxes have been set up in 24 states of the US.
Polls close in at 12:00 midnight although the interior ministry has been allowed to extend voting hours until 2:00 am on Saturday to prevent overcrowding due to high turnout. Ballot counting will start at midnight and preliminary results are expected within 24 hours of polls closing. The elections are also for city and village councils.
For Iranians, the most pressing domestic issue is the economy. In addition, COVID-19 is still a serious problem for Iran.
More than a third of Iran’s 85 million population is under age 30. Women comprise more than half the population.
In addition to presidential elections, people are going to the polls to participate in the 6th Islamic city and village council elections across the country as well as midterm Assembly of Experts elections in 4 provinces, including Tehran, Khorassan Razavi, Qom and Mazandaran, and midterm parliament elections in several provinces, including Tehran, East Azerbaijan, Gilan, Markazi, Kohgilouyeh and Boyer Ahmad and Hamedan.
Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari said that over 600,000 police forces will be deployed in the country’s cities and towns to protect security of the presidential elections.
The Iranian interior ministry on May 25 declared the names of 7 hopefuls qualified by Iran’s vetting body, the Guardian Council, to run in the presidential race.
The 7 approved candidates included Iran’s Judiciary Chief Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi, Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezayee, Iranian reformist politician and former Governor of Isfahan Province Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Saeed Jalili, Iranian Member of the Parliament Alireza Zakani, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati and Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Seyed Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi.
The disapproved candidates had the opportunity to protest at their disqualification vote and the qualified candidates could start their campaign as of May 25 until 24 hours before elections.
Several candidates, including former Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and former Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi, dropped out of the race in Rayeesi’s favor before the Guardian Council declared its decision on their qualification.
In the past few days, Alireza Zakani and Saeed Jalili announced their pullout from the Friday presidential election in favor of Ebrahim Rayeesi, while Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh declared his withdrawal in support of the main reformist-moderate camp nominee Abdolnasser Hemmati.
Rayeesi appears to be the front-runner among four candidates running for president in Iran, according to the polls.
Rayeesi is known to be the favorite pick in this election after he gathered fame in systematic aide to the poor when he headed the Shiite Islam's 8th Imam, Hazrat Ali Ibn-e Moussa's endowment Institution, and then in fighting corruption during his present career as the Judiciary Chief. He was facing mounting calls by his supporters and associated political figures to join the 2021 presidential race, with a top body of Principlists now backing him as their top choice but he has declared himself as an independent candidate.
He served as attorney general from 2014 to 2016, and was deputy Judiciary chief from 2004 to 2014. He was also prosecutor and deputy prosecutor of Tehran in the 1980s and 90s.
Rayeesi became a household name in Iran in 2017 when he ran as a Principlist candidate in the presidential election. He lost the vote to Rouhani.
As the Judiciary chief, Rayeesi has launched a widespread anti-corruption campaign. He drew up laws to protect women against domestic violence.
The Constitutional Council — also known as the Guardian Council — is a body of Islamic and legal jurists that acts in many ways as a Supreme Court.
Half of the body’s 12 members are legal jurists. They are nominated by the head of the Iranian Parliament and put to the vote of the Parliament, while the rest are specialists in Islamic law, and are appointed by the country’s highest-ranking authority, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.
Membership in the Council is for phased six-year terms, which means half the membership changes every three years at random.
The Council affirms or rejects any interpretation of the law made in bills passed by parliament. The members sitting on the Council vet the compatibility of the legislation with the Constitution and its Islamic basis.
Any legislation rejected by the Council will be passed back to the Parliament, which will have to rewrite the proposed bill if it wants it to proceed with it. Disagreements between the two bodies are referred to the Expediency Council for a final decision.
Another one of the Council’s tasks is to supervise elections. All candidates standing for election and those for the Assembly of Experts — another supreme body — must secure the Constitutional Council’s approval before they can join the race.
The election in which voters pick a president for a four-year term is held as the country is still grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak.
As stipulated in the Constitution, the President is elected for a four-year term by direct vote, and is allowed only two successive terms, although he can run for a third nonconsecutive term.
To run for president, a candidate must satisfy six key qualifications outlined in the Constitution, namely being an Iranian national and of Iranian origin, having “administrative capacity and resourcefulness” besides a good past record and the qualities of trustworthiness and piety. The President must also have a firm belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islam, the official religion of the country.
Presidents are elected with a majority of the vote. If no candidate manages to secure the threshold in the first round, a run-off is held between the two candidates that have received the most votes in the first round.
Under Article 113 of the Iranian Constitution, the President acts as the country’s chief executive and is responsible for implementing the law of the land “except in matters directly concerned with the office of the Leadership.”
Within the limits of his powers and duties, the President is responsible before “the people, the Leader, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly,” as the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) is formally called.
The President appoints ministers, subject to the approval of the Parliament.
The chief executive has the authority to sign agreements with other governments as well as those pertaining to international organizations, after securing parliamentary approval.
Ambassadors to other countries are also appointed upon the recommendation of the Foreign Minister and approval of the President, who also receives the credentials presented by the ambassadors of foreign countries.
The President is tasked with administering national planning, the budget, and state employment affairs.
In addition, he heads the Supreme National Security Council, which protects and supports national interests, the Islamic Revolution, and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, the President serves as the chairman of Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, a body set up after the 1979 Revolution to ensure the country’s education and culture remain Islamic and will not be influenced by other cultures and ideologies.