Figures released on Sunday [June 20] say nearly two-thirds of residents of the Iranian capital, where supporters of the ultra-conservative president-elect Ebrahim Raisi staged a victory parade last night, stayed at home and did not vote in Friday’s controversial presidential poll.
According to Shokrollah Hassan-Beigi, chairman of the Tehran province electoral working group, of the 9,815,000 eligible voters in Tehran province, 3,347,000 (34.38%) turned out to vote on Friday in the province of Tehran. Tehran while in the city of Tehran only 26% of eligible voters (around 2,552,000) voted. This was much lower than the turnout in the 2017 presidential election, when 67% voted in the capital.
At the time, President Hassan Rouhani running for his second term was popular, expressing support for social freedoms and a glimmer of hope on the horizon with a nuclear deal signed with the United States. Reformers were on the rise and won 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 seemed increasingly unable to keep his promises. A second wave of protests struck in the summer of 2018 and a much larger one in November 2019, when hundreds of people were shot dead by security forces. The hope for reform and the expectations of Rouhani and the reformists making a difference have burst like a bubble.
This time around, Reformers did not have a serious candidate, as all but one lesser-known politician were barred by the Hardline Guardian Council from standing for election. Raisi won the race with 17,926,000 out of just 28,933,000 votes cast nationwide.
The number of “blank and spoiled” ballots in Terhan was unusually high, even higher than the votes cast for the second-placed candidate. These ballots totaled 413,000 or 12 percent of all votes cast. Nationally, too, more than 4 million “blank and null” votes were cast, or about 14% of all ballots. The high number of “blank and spoiled” ballots reflected strong feelings about the election, the state of the economy after more than two years of severe economic recession following punitive US sanctions and murder. hundreds of protesters by security forces since December 2017.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who religiously banned blank voting, said the election results marked a victory for the Iranian nation in the face of “enemy propaganda” and called the Iranians’ participation in the ballot “epic.” .
With 59 million eligible voters, the turnout was 48.8%, the lowest ever recorded in Iranian presidential elections, below the minimum of 51% in 1989. Iranian media reported point numbers percentage rather than numbers, apparently to minimize low turnout.
Some commentators told Iran International that most of the spoiled ballots were “no vote” for the Islamic Republic. Others have suggested they are protesting the Guardian Council’s watchdog that does not allow candidates to privilege figures like former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or former parliament speaker Ali Larijani.
Separately, the Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday that most of the main candidates in the local elections in Tehran, who appear on a list drawn up by former mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, have obtained a place in the next city council. Ghalibaf is currently speaker of parliament. In 2017, reformists overwhelmingly won municipal elections and appointed reformist Pirouz Hanachi mayor.
Tehran province had a population of 13,267,000 and the capital 8,693,000 at the last census in 2016. Tehran’s population, according to government statistics, has increased by 6.6% since the last census.