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Khamenei Urges Voter Participation After Record Low Turnout

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reuters
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reuters

The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, urged Iranians to participate in Friday’s runoff election after the previous week’s contest was determined with the lowest turnout in the theocracy’s nearly half century of existence.

With only 40 percent of the 61 million eligible voters casting ballots for one of the four pre-approved candidates, the octogenarian conceded that “participation was not as expected,” while maintaining that it was “completely wrong to think that those who did not vote in the first round are against the system.”

Khamenei’s comments came as surveys indicated that as many as three-quarters of Iranians were planning on boycotting the event in protest of Tehran’s repressive policies.

The final determination, initiated by none of the contestants receiving 50 percent of the vote, is between 'reformist' candidate and heart surgeon Masoud Pezeshkian, who came in first place, and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Both individuals are running to replace former President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed along with the dictatorship's foreign minister and other bureaucrats in a May helicopter crash.

There has only been one other election of this type since the regime’s 1979 Islamist constitution came into effect, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in 2005.

Also on Wednesday, the son of the last Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, called the upcoming plebiscite an “election circus” while encouraging others to stay home and not partake in the matter.

Related Story: Islamic Republic’s Election Heads to Runoff with Lowest Turnout in Regime’s History

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