DUBAI, June 15 (Reuters) – Iran holds a presidential election on Friday seen as a referendum on the clerical establishment’s handling of tensions with the West, periodic bouts of political unrest and an economy devastated by U.S. sanctions.
While the president heads the government, it is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has the last say on all state matters, including nuclear and foreign policies.
A hardliner is expected to replace Iran‘s outgoing pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani.
Following are details of the election and the voting process:
Seven candidates were cleared to run for president by Iran’s hardline constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, out of 592 hopefuls who registered to enter the contest.
The Council, a panel of six senior clerics appointed by the supreme leader and six Islamic jurists, vets aspiring candidates in all elections on a diverse range of technical and ideological grounds including level of education, and commitment to Islam, the constitution and the Islamic Republic’s values.
The hardline vetting body has never qualified women to stand, although some top clerics and human rights lawyers argue that the constitution does not exclude them.
All Iranians aged over 18 can vote, which means over 59.3 million of Iran‘s 85 million people are eligible to cast ballots.
Polling opens at 7 am (0230 GMT) on June 18 and ends at midnight (1930 GMT), but can be extended.
All ballots will be counted manually, so the final result may not be announced for three days, although partial results may appear sooner.
If no candidate wins at least 50 percent plus one vote of all ballots cast, including blank ones, a run-off round between the top two candidates is held on the first Friday after the election result is declared.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean)