Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei during a meeting in Tehran, January 2024

Iran's Khamenei Urges High Voter Turnout Amidst Tight Control

Saturday, 06/15/2024

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, called for increased voter participation in the snap presidential elections on June 28, amidst growing concerns about voter apathy and the overall legitimacy of the electoral process.

"Elections are very important, strive to increase participation, and choose wisely based on who has the capability to work according to the criteria of the revolution," Khamenei stated during a Saturday meeting with a group of so-called young elites.

Despite Khamenei's push for greater electoral engagement, the pervasive atmosphere is one of disillusionment. The Guardian Council, appointed by Khamenei, has extensively disqualified numerous candidates, leaving a narrow field overwhelmingly composed of his staunch supporters. Out of six candidates running, five are ardent followers of Khamenei, while the sole candidate with moderate leanings has also demonstrated loyalty to him on national television.

Voter participation in tightly controlled elections has gradually fallen since 2020, when Khamenei's hardline supporters began disqualifying hundreds of other regime loyalists from parliamentary and presidential elections.

The restrictions, coupled with economic struggles and crackdowns on protestors, have deepened public skepticism about the elections. Many Iranians view the process as heavily orchestrated, offering little in terms of political choice or the prospect of meaningful change. The political landscape within the Islamic Republic remains controlled, and with such a list of candidates, few voters see the upcoming elections as a true opportunity to influence the country’s direction.

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