Iran says Friday’s presidential vote will be a ‘serious’ contest

TEHRAN, Iran — On the eve of Iran’s presidential election, expected to hand victory to the ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate-vetting Guardian Council insists that “the political contest is serious.”

“The media and the people have testified that this is a good competition,” says the head of the 12-member council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaee, a day before almost 60 million voters are asked to head to the ballots.

Three televised debates between the seven candidates, all men, who were approved by the unelected body of jurists and clerics had shown that “the political competition is serious,” Kadkhodaee tells a press conference.

Tomorrow’s vote will choose a successor to Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who cannot run again now after serving two consecutive four-year terms, and who leaves office in August.

Turnout is expected to be low in a country where many have been demoralized by years of painful economic crisis that was brought on by a crippling US sanctions regime and worsened by the COVID pandemic.

The election comes as Tehran holds renewed talks with world powers to revive a battered 2015 nuclear deal, which the United States unilaterally withdrew from three years ago under then president Donald Trump.

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