Around 75 percent of respondents in a recent survey of Iranians said they would not cast their vote in this month’s presidential election.

As Iranians gear up for the presidential election on June 18, turnout is expected to be less than 25 percent - the lowest ever,  according to a survey by the Netherlands-based Iranians Survey Group (GAMAAN).

In the last election, which current President, Hassan Rouhani, won in 2017, the turnout was around 73 percent. 

A GAMAAN survey of 80,000 Iranians showed that 75 percent of respondents over the age of 19 would not go to the polls, 18 percent said they would cast their vote while 6 percent remain undecided.

More than two-thirds of those who have decided not to vote said their decision is based on the grounds that "there is no freedom in Iran and the elections are of no use", while others said they are not voting because "many of the candidates were eliminated".

The Shia-majority Iran’s Guardian Council, an institution that decides which of the candidates can stand for election, has struck down the candidacy of dozens of moderate and hardline candidates. The Guardian Council has approved just seven candidates for the race. 

The GAMAAN survey also indicated that there’s a possibility that the turnout of expat Iranians could be very low in these elections.

Only four percent of the approximately six thousand people who participated in the survey from abroad said they will vote. This figure was 54 percent in the last election. 

The decision to ban the candidates has boosted the prospects of hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, amid discontent over an economy crippled by the US sanctions.

Among the respondents of the GAMAAN’s survey, who expressed their willingness to vote, 59 percent said they would vote for Raisi and 8 percent put their weight behind the conservative Saeed Jalili.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of the overall respondents said they prefer a secular republic, 16 percent a secular constitutional administration to be established under the leadership of the Shah, and 22 percent said they like an Islamic Republic in Iran.

A higher turnout is important for Iran's religious leadership, which wants world powers to accept the political transition. 

Before the parliamentary election in February last year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “voting is not only a revolutionary and national responsibility, but it is also a religious duty.”

Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the country has gone through 12 presidential elections. 

The highest ever turnout of 84.8 was recorded in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won his second term. The lowest voter participation at 50.6 was seen in 1993 when Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani took office for the second time.

Source: TRT World