TEHRAN – The huge turnout marked on Friday the first half of election day in the Iranian presidential race, in which citizens are divided between the current leader, moderate Hassan Rouhani, and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.
Apart from the favorites, there are two other candidates, the ministers Mostafa Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemitaba, but none of the voters consulted by EFE expressed their support for them.
The long queues in front of the polling stations, which are mainly in schools and mosques, were a constant from the first hours of the day and are expected to grow even more by its end.
More than 56 million Iranians are called to the polls to elect the future president and also the representatives of municipal councils, although the latter seem to raise less interest.
The first to vote – in a televised scene – was the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who called the elections extremely important because in his view, the fate of the country is in the hands of the people.
In the same vein, Rouhani declared after casting his vote that the people are the ones to determine their destiny, that of their children and even of the next generations.
For his part, Raisi urged voters to accept the result as legal, whatever it is, referring to the reformist protests against the allegedly fraudulent reelection of ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 by the Green Movement, the leaders of which support Rouhani.
The supporters of the current president emphasized the greater degree of freedom now in the country and the end of Iran’s international isolation, with the nuclear agreement as the main reason for entrusting him with a second term.
Ganbar Talab, a 30-year-old bank clerk, told EFE at a polling station in the popular Mokhtari neighborhood in southern Tehran, which he wants a future without cultural or economic hardship for his country and for young people, and this can only be achieved by Rouhani.
On the other side, those who opted for Raisi believe that Rouhani has not cared about the problems of the disadvantaged classes and criticize the economic performance of his government.
“I want Mr. Raisi to be president, and I want him to be honest and not make unrealistic promises, and think about the middle and lower classes of society,” Hanane Hoseini, 27, a student, told EFE at a school in the center of Tehran.
Authorities have deployed a total of 63,500 polling stations, which include 71,000 supervisors and about 300,000 police to ensure the integrity and security of the elections.
Iranians abroad can vote in a 100 countries and, according to the foreign ministry, their participation is also high.
After the closing of the polling stations, probably well into the night, the recount of votes is set to begin, as well as the gradual announcement of the results, which are expected to give the victory in the first round to one of the two favorites.