Iranians voted in a presidential election on Friday amid concerns over a low turnout with the conservative head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, widely seen as the frontrunner.
Nearly 60 million eligible voters in Iran will decide the fate of four candidates in the fray to succeed President Hassan Rouhani.
The Guardian Council, a 12-member constitutional vetting body under Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei, barred hundreds of candidates including reformists and those aligned with Rouhani.
Polls opened at 7am local time (2:30 GMT) and will close at midnight (19:30 GMT) but can be extended for two hours. The results are expected midday on Saturday.
After casting his vote in the capital Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei urged Iranians to do the same saying “each vote counts … come and vote and choose your president”.
With uncertainty surrounding Iran’s efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal and growing poverty at home after years of United States sanctions, the turnout for the vote is being seen by Iranian analysts as a referendum on the current leadership’s handling of an array of crises.
‘It’s not right’
Voter enthusiasm was dampened by the disqualification of many candidates and the deep economic malaise, which has sparked burgeoning inflation and job losses – the crisis deepened by the COVID pandemic.
“I’m not a politician, I don’t know anything about politics,” a Tehran car mechanic who gave his name as Nasrollah said. “I have no money. All families are now facing economic problems. How can we vote for these people who did this to us? It’s not right.”
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from the capital Tehran, said there is lot of support behind Raisi.
“The general public has one thing on their mind that they want some change from the moderate and reformist government they have seen over the past eight years,” she said.
“There is a sense that the economic situation in the country is not going to change any time soon. So they are hoping Raisi will bring some kind of change.”