Raisey, who is currently under US sanctions, emerged as the frontrunner after the election supervisory body barred all of its serious rivals from the race. Analysts called the vote the country’s most uncompetitive election since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
According to election officials, around 48% turnout took place, with 90% of ballots counted. Fewer voters turned up for this election, which was widely seen as a foregone conclusion, compared to 2017, when turnout was over 70%.
Raisi has so far garnered over 17.8 million votes, followed by Mohsin Rezai, another conservative, who has garnered 3.3 million votes. The lone moderate candidate Abdolnasar Hemmati got 2.4 million votes.
The election comes at a crucial moment for Iran. The next government will face the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will have to call for constitutional reform. Tehran is currently locked in talks with the United States about how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Raisi, a close aide of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for decades played a leading role in prosecuting political prisoners in Iran.
According to rights groups, in 1988, Raisi was part of a four-person “death panel” that reportedly oversaw the mass executions of 5,000 political prisoners. His two years as Chief Justice of Iran were marked by intense repression of dissent and human rights abuses.
On Saturday, outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Raisi to congratulate him.