Raisi president, with less than half of electorate voting

The ultra-conservative exponent who was beaten by Rouhani in 2017 is ahead in the vote count in the Iranian elections. Against contact between men and women in the public spaces and the standard bearer of an "economy of resistance", he declared that he was better suited than the reformists to implement the "nuclear deal approved by the Supreme Leader".

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agency) - As was widely announced the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi is the new president of Iran. But in an election in which he voted less than half of those eligible. While counting is not yet completed, the other three candidates still in the race have already conceded victory given that Raisi is at around 62%, well above the 50% threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

However, the data on abstention is also high: many seem to have heeded the call to boycott the vote after many of their candidates were excluded from the race by the Council of Guardians of the constitution. No official figures on turnout have been released, but around 28 million voters out of the 59 million eligible voters cast their ballot.

This figure is much less than the 73% of voters who went to the polls in 2017 for the presidential elections that returned reformist Hassan Rouhani, with the defeat of Raisi. And the turnout was certainly lower than the all-time low of 57%, reached last year during the parliamentary elections.

Outgoing president Rouhani - who has already held the office for two terms and will hand over to Raisi in August - has "congratulated the people for choosing him". Former head of the judiciary and very loyal to Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei (who could succeed) the new president - who is 60 years old - is remembered for having been part of the committee that, since 1988, has sentenced thousands of dissidents, militants and opponents to death after the war with Iraq.

Raisi was already among Iranian officials subjected to sanctions by the US government. He has always supported a line of closure towards social reforms and ties with the West. In 2014, for example, Raisi sparked debate in Iran for his defense of the rules imposed by the government of Tehran to limit contact between men and women in the public space: "This is a good way to create a suitable work environment for the promotion of women ". As for economic policies, he called for "an economy of resistance", with "more attention to agriculture than to foreign investment".

Raisi has instead shown himself open to possibilities in the ongoing talks on the restoration of the nuclear deal - signed in 2015 and then blocked by Donald Trump in 2018. During the last debate before the elections, on June 12, he declared that "he will abide by this agreement approved by the Supreme Leader”, adding that "a strong government" has more chances to implement it than one led by reformists.

In an interview with state TV, however, he added that in his foreign policy the national interest will be a priority and "he will spare no effort" to end "the oppressive sanctions".