The two front runners are Abdolnaser Hemmati, former head of the Central Bank, who represents the moderates, and Ebrahim Raisi, current Chief Justice of the country, who has been endorsed by conservatives.
President Hassan Rouhani signed a multilateral nuclear deal with the six world powers in 2015 to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions on the country. This ushered in a thaw in relations with the U.S., but in 2018, former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement and subsequent re-imposition of sanctions meant that Iran suffered very significant economic fallout and Rouhani’s administration failed to fulfill its economic promises and there was a crippling economic downturn in the country.
However, many of the critics of the system believe that the major problem of the regime is not international sanctions, but rather its totalitarian dictatorship and widespread corruption that have left many people in poverty and crushes any objection with brutality.
“The main problem of the country is its totalitarian dictatorship identity that does not tolerate any criticism,” Hosein Ronaghi, a former political prisoner and current activist in the no voting campaign, told ABC News.
“By not casting a vote, we want to send this message to the international community that the Islamic Republic, which has shed the blood of our fellow men and women, is not our representative,” he added.
The brutal crackdown on nationwide protests in November 2019 when hundreds were killed and thousands arrested is still an open wound to many Iranians.
Many are exacerbated after how few consequences there were after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot two missiles at a Ukrainian plane last January, killing all passengers and crew members on board. Critics of the Iranian regime argue that this is symptomatic of the regime’s indifference to the consequences of actions taken in their name, whilst punishing those who challenge the politically conservative orthodoxy.
“Why should I vote when no one was held responsible for the bloodshed in Nov. 2019? Or no one felt responsible enough to at least resign after it was proved that IRGC itself had shot the passenger plane down,” Mahnaz, 45, a single mother who works as a nurse in Tehran and didn’t reveal her full name due to security concerns, told ABC News.
Ronaghi believes one of the messages that the NoVoting campaign has for the international community is to consider issues beyond politics and Islamic Republic’s regional activities.
“We want the international community to pay more attention to other major issues of the country, including the human rights situation,” Ronaghi said
While considering human rights issues by the international community seems “essential” to Mahnaz, for any possible change in a system like the Islamic Republic, she believes for the changes to be “sustainable,” Iranians need structural changes from within and this election many fear will not do that.