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Financial Times: Low participation threatens any possible victory for conservatives in Iran's elections

The British Financial Times commented on the presidential election in Iran, which takes place today, Friday, and said that these elections are expected to strengthen the hardliners' control of the Islamic Republic, but it felt that any victory for the conservatives carries the risk that the turnout will be the lowest since the outbreak of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

The newspaper said that the important elections come as the Biden administration seeks to not escalate tensions in the region and revive the nuclear agreement signed by Tehran with world powers.

 Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran's judiciary, is the front-runner after authorities blocked the candidacy of reformists and Ali Larani, a prominent conservative who helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.

 Raisi has an advantage over his main rivals, Abdel Nasser Hemmati, the former governor of the Central Bank, and the main reformer, Mohsen Rezaei, and another governor, according to opinion polls.

But even if one of the conservative candidates wins, a low turnout could undermine the victory and damage the regime's claims that the elections provide popular legitimacy in a region where few elections are held.

The Financial Times quoted Ali, an Iranian engineer and musician, as saying he would not vote and neither would any of his close relatives. He added that if their votes would change anything, the system would not have allowed them to cast their votes and described the entire vote by show, and that the president's participation in decision-making was less than 5%.

Opinion polls indicated expectations of a 50% drop in participation. This bleak mood, which comes in light of an economic crisis and the Corona epidemic, is in stark contrast to the last elections in 2017, when more than 70% of eligible voters cast their ballots to give President Hassan Rouhani a second and final term in a victory by a wide margin.

These elections, in which Raisi came in second place by a large margin, were a referendum on the 2015 nuclear deal that Rouhani promised to use to turn the economy around, attract foreign investment and intensify engagement with the West. But his expectations were shattered after Trump's arrival in the White House, his withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran.