Hardliner Raisi expected to win a stunning victory in Iran’s presidential election


After 90 percent of the votes were counted, Iran’s hardline nominee Ebrahim Raisi, the conservative head of the judiciary, took an unassailable lead in the presidential election, the interior ministry declared on Saturday.

According to early figures, Raisi, 60, received more than 17.8 million votes out of a total of 28.6 million, according to the interior ministry.

“I congratulate the people on their choice,” said Hassan Rouhani, the departing moderate president who has served two four-year terms in a row and will leave office in August.

Previously on another day, three of the four contestants in the race conceded defeat to Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei who was largely regarded as the frontrunner in the poll, which was hampered by low turnout and the disqualification of many candidates.

More than 3.3 million people voted for hardliner Mohsen Rezaei, former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, the sole moderate in the contest, came in second. The future administration will take office in August, as Iran attempts to salvage its shattered nuclear agreement with major powers and free itself from crushing US sanctions that have caused a steep economic downturn. Iranian diplomats have been meeting in Vienna, to try to resurrect the pact.

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