Iranians head to the polls to elect new president

Tehran, Jun. 28, (dpa/GNA) – Iran is set to elect a new president on Friday, with some 61 million voters called upon to choose a successor to Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

Despite the title of president, Raisi was only number two in Iran’s power structure as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei functions as the head of state and has the final say in all strategic matters. He is also commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces.

The Guardian Council, an extremely conservative supervisory body, had only authorized six candidates for the election.

Earlier in the week, two conservative hardliner candidates withdrew their nominations in an effort to unite support among hardline voters heading to the polls.

This leaves four contenders in the election to replace Raisi.

The candidates seen as having the best chances to win the election are the hardliner Saeed Jalili, former negotiator in the international nuclear talks, and parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, as well as former health minister and reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian.

The cleric Mostafa Pourmohammadi is also still in the running.

If none of the candidates secures an absolute majority, a runoff vote will take place on July 5.

Polling stations will be open from 8 am to 6 pm (0430-1430 GMT), with the possibility of an extension. The first results are expected on Saturday.