In a speech today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of voting. A high voter turnout is something he and other top leaders of the Islamic Republic have pushed for in the last few weeks before the June 14 election. There are approximately 50 million eligible voters, and despite claims by various Iranian media that voter turnout will be far above 50%, it has been difficult to independently verify.
Khamenei said, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.” Interestingly, on June 4, Khamenei used the opposite argument to urge people to vote. “Each vote you give to any of these eight candidates … is a vote you’ve given for the Islamic Republic,” he said. “A vote for any candidate is a vote for the Islamic Republic. It’s a vote of confidence in the system and the mechanisms of the election.”
Khamenei also said, “A maximum turnout at the ballot box is more important than anything else for the country. And the nation with a powerful action on Friday will prove its firm relationship and connection with the Islamic system and will once again make the enemy unfulfilled and hopeless.”
Although Khamenei said he appreciated the “lawful” behavior of the candidates, he added, “However, of some of the things that were said during the debates, I have facts and content that I will express after the election, God willing.” Many analysts were surprised by the criticism from his foreign-policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati of current nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Iran’s nuclear case is directly under the supervision of the supreme leader, and any criticism over how the negotiations with the West are handled can be construed as a criticism toward him and his policies.
Khamenei also talked about foreign policy. “The international scene is not a scene of compliments and niceties, and however much weakness you show and retreat, the enemy will come closer.” He continued, “Sometimes, because of expediency, we accepted certain terms. But the enemy went back on their word, and audaciously came after us even harder. Therefore, we must stand with power in front of the foreigner’s illegitimate demands.”
“No one knows the divine fate of the nation on Friday,” Khamenei said. “However, the more votes the elected individual … receives, the more strength he has to stand against the nation’s enemy and defend the country’s interests.”
Guardian Council responds to claims of interference by intelligence official
Spokesman for the Guardian Council Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei responded to claims by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani that an official from the Intelligence Ministry intervened in the qualification process of candidates.
Kadkhodaei called the decisions to qualify and disqualify candidates such as Rafsanjani “expert” and “legal.” Rafsanjani claimed yesterday that he was originally approved to the run in the election by the Guardian Council, but that “a security official attended the Guardian Council meeting and intervened in his qualification.” Although there had been rumors that there was intervention in the Guardian Council’s decision to disqualify Rafsanjani, this is the first time that Rafsanjani has openly talked about it.