Dubai – Millions of Iranians voted on Friday in a contest set to hand the presidency to a hard-line judge who is subject to U.S. sanctions, though anger over economic hardship and curbs on freedoms mean many will heed calls for a boycott.
Senior officials appealed for a large turnout in an election widely seen as a referendum on their handling of the economy, including rising prices and unemployment and a collapse in the value of its currency.
“I urge everyone with any political view to vote,” judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi, the front-runner in the contest, said after casting his ballot.
“Our people’s grievances over shortcomings are real, but if it is the reason for not participating, then it is wrong.”
While state television showed long queues at polling stations in several cities, the semi-official Fars news agency reported 22 million or 37% of voters had cast ballots by 7:30 p.m., citing its own reporter. The interior ministry said it…