Iran Figures Show Just 26% Voted In Capital Tehran | Iran International

Iran Figures Show Just 26% Voted In Capital Tehran

Figures released on Sunday [June 20] indicate that nearly two-thirds of the residents of the Iranian capital, where supporters of ultraconservative president-elect Ebrahim Raisi held a victory parade last night, stayed home and did not turn out to vote in Friday's controversial presidential poll.

According to Shokrollah Hassan-Beigi, chairman of Election Taskforce of Tehran Province, of the 9,815,000 eligible voters in Tehran Province 3,347,000 (34.38%) went to the polls in Tehran province on Friday while in the city of Tehran only 26% of eligible voters (about 2,552,000) turned out to vote. This was much lower than turnout in the 2017 presidential election when 67 percent voted in the capital.

At that time, President Hassan Rouhani running for his second term was popular, voicing support for social freedoms and a glimmer of hope on the horizon with a nuclear deal signed with the United States. Reformists were riding high and won in many local elections.

Then came an austerity budget in December 2017 and rising inflation that exploded into nationwide protests. Security forces killed at least 25 people and Rouhani looked increasingly unable to deliver on his promises. A second wave of protests hit in the summer of 2018 and a much bigger one in November 2019, when hundreds were shot dead by security forces. The hope for reforms and expectations of Rouhani and reformists making a difference burst like a bubble.

This time around, reformists did not have a serious candidate, because all except a lesser-known politician were barred by the hardliner Guardian Council from running in the election. Raisi won the race with 17,926,000 out of just 28,933,000 votes cast nationwide.

The number of 'blank and void' ballots in Terhan was unusually high, even higher than the votes cast for the candidate who came in second. These ballots totaled 413,000 or 12 percent of all votes cast. At the national level also over 4 million 'blank and void' votes were cast, around 14% of all ballots. The high number of 'blank and void' ballot reflected strong feelings over the election, the state of the economy after over two years of severe economic recession following punitive United States sanctions, and the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces since December 2017.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who had religiously banned casting blank ballots, said that the election results marked a victory for the Iranian nation in the face of “enemy propaganda” and called Iranians’ participation in the poll "epic.”

With 59 million eligible voters, the turnout was 48.8 percent, the lowest ever in Iranian presidential elections, below the previously low of 51 percent in 1989. Iranian media announced figures in percentage points rather than numbers, apparently to downplay the low turnout.

Some commentators told Iran International that most of void ballots were a “no vote” for the Islamic Republic. Others have suggested they were in protest against the watchdog Guardian Council not allowing to stand as candidates favored figures like former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.

Meanwhile, Tasnim news agency reported Sunday that most of the principlist candidates in local elections in Tehran, who are on a slate drawn by former mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, have secured a place in the next city council. Ghalibaf is currently speaker of parliament. In 2017, reformists had overwhelmingly won the city elections and appointed the reformist Pirouz Hanachi as mayor.

Tehran province had a population of 13,267,000 and the capital 8,693,000 in the last census taken in 2016. The population of Tehran, according to government statistics, grew by 6.6% since the last census was taken.

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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