Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Concedes Low Turnout in Presidential Election


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian dictator, acknowledged that the turnout in last week’s special presidential election was “less than expected,” but insisted that the low participation was not a result of an international boycott campaign against the sham vote. The Iranian regime reported a turnout of around 40 percent, a record low, in the election, which saw a “Guardian Council” of clerics and loyalists determine who appeared on the ballot, eliminating most contenders.

The election, which took place on June 28, was marked by a mysterious helicopter accident that killed incumbent “hardliner” Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in May. The presidential election is heading for a rare runoff vote on July 5, with “moderate” Masoud Pezeshkian and “hardliner” Saeed Jalili as the top two candidates.

Khamenei, in a speech in Tehran, denied that calls to boycott the election contributed significantly to the low turnout, stating that it was a “totally wrong interpretation” to assume that those who did not vote were opposed to the regime. He instead blamed unspecified “problems and difficulties” for the low participation.

Khamenei emphasized the importance of voting, calling it the “backbone and source of pride for the Islamic Establishment.” He urged Iranians to participate in the runoff vote, stating that anyone who loves Islam, the Islamic Republic, and the country’s progress should show their interest by voting.

The debate over whether to boycott the runoff vote is ongoing among Iranians who oppose the regime. Some have called for a boycott, citing the election’s lack of legitimacy, while others have suggested that supporting Pezeshkian is a worthy cause to prevent Jalili from obtaining the presidency and potentially preventing Iran from falling further into totalitarianism.

Prominent Iranians, including former President Mohammad Khatami and former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have endorsed Pezeshkian, who has also attracted the support of the last “moderate” president, Hassan Rouhani. Both Pezeshkian and Jalili have issued statements attempting to convince Iranians to show up at the polls, treating boycotters as an untapped constituency that could potentially win either of them the election.

Frances Martel
Frances Martel
Author and editor specializing in international current events.

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