Iran’s hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi, the conservative head of the judiciary, has taken an unassailable lead in the presidential election after 90 percent of the votes were counted, the interior ministry said on Saturday.
Raisi, 60, received more than 17.8 million out of the 28.6 million votes that have been counted, the interior ministry said, based on preliminary results.
Earlier in the day three out of four candidates in the fray conceded defeat to Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei who was widely seen as the frontrunner in Friday’s election marred by low turnout and the disqualification of many candidates.
Hardliner Mohsen Rezaei, a former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, received more than 3.3 million votes. He was followed by former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, the only moderate in the race, with at least 2.4 million votes, and conservative lawmaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi with more than one million votes.
Even as the votes were being counted, Hemmati, the only reformist candidate in the race, congratulated Raisi for winning the election.
“I hope your government, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will bring comfort and prosperity to our nation,” former central bank chief Hemmati said in a letter, state media reported on Saturday.
Raisi did not immediately acknowledge Hemmati’s concession, nor that of Rezaei, who also conceded a loss.
Hashemi explicitly congratulated Raisi. “I congratulate … Raisi, elected by the nation,” Hashemi said, quoted by Iranian media.
In a statement, outgoing President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the people of Iran and the supreme leader for an “epic and rare presence” in the elections, saying “your glorious and enemy-breaking participation led to the remorse and dejection of enemies and those who wish ill on this nation”.
Earlier Rouhani congratulated “the people’s elected [president]”, without naming Raisi.
The interior ministry refused to confirm reports that the number of void votes exceeded Rezaei’s vote haul. If true, that would mean for the first time in the history of the Islamic republic, bad votes have finished second place.