Last month, hundreds of dissidents and activists signed an open letter urging voters to boycott the elections. They demanded the supreme leader be immediately dismissed, free and fair elections, and that the religious theocracy is replaced with a secular democratic constitution.
Together under the slogan “My vote regime change,” sympathizers of the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and Mujahideen-e Khalq (PMOI / MEK Iran) are advocating for a boycott of the June elections:
(using the hashtag #BoycottIranShamElections on social media).
According to Iran International, university students of Isfahan published calls for a boycott on the Telegram messaging app, claiming that Iranians were “fed up with the economic hardships” and a political climate in which participation was impossible unless activists “risked their life and freedom.”
The Guardian Council, a religious-judicial body partly nominated by the supreme leader, completed its vetting process a week ago, approving seven candidates and rejecting more than 580 others, including dozens of women, as it has done before every presidential election since the 1979 revolution.
Raisi was also involved earlier, according to the US Treasury Department, which blacklisted him in 2019. “In the regime’s brutal crackdown on Iran’s Green Movement protests that followed the chaotic and disorderly 2009 election.”
Another approved candidate, Mohsen Rezai, former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is wanted by Argentine authorities in connection with the country’s deadliest terrorist attack, the 1994 suicide truck bombing at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people.
All seven individuals are regarded as hardliners; there are no claimed “reformists” in the running to succeed Rouhani, who was labeled as a “moderate” in the Iranian context.
Despite the Guardian Council’s banning of reformists, some people who identify as such have elected Raisi, who is generally predicted to win the state elections.
Despite their disappointment with the vetting process, the group opted to campaign “to encourage the people to participate in large numbers in the elections and support Ayatollah Raisi,” according to Khezr Khalili, a spokesman for the group.
On the campaign trail, Khamenei has told the contenders to focus on economic matters rather than foreign affairs.
The issue of ongoing talks in Vienna concerning the US return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal hasn’t arisen, however, government spokesman Ali Rabiei stressed on Tuesday that the election’s decision will have no bearing on the nuclear talks.
When asked by a Financial Times reporter how the projected election of a hardliner could affect the Vienna negotiations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken refused to be dragged into the Iranian election issue.
“Look, it’s very difficult to predict, and I certainly don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what impact one outcome or the other in Iran’s elections would have on any nuclear negotiations,” he added.
The supreme leader of Iran has influence, according to Blinken, and “he’s the one who has to make the fundamental decisions about what Iran’s approach would be.”