A senior Iranian cleric says unlike other countries, a massive voter turnout in Iran elections is an asset which boosts the Islamic Republic’s international standing.“The quality of elections in the Islamic Republic is different from other countries in that … elections in our country are meant to[offer] support to the Islamic establishment, ” Tehran interim Friday Prayers leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami - Kashani, told worshippers in the capital city. He added that in the Western countries such as the United States, power oscillates between two parties without a significant role for the public participation in the elections.
However, “the asset of the Islamic Iran is the nation, backed by intellectuals, experts and universities. Therefore, greater enthusiasm[for taking part] in elections will further strengthen the country ' s Islamic establishment, given the effective role of our government in awakening the Muslim world and disappointing the enemy, ” Ayatollah Emami - Kashani stated.“A maximum voter turnout in elections helps the Islamic establishment to push ahead with its stances in the international arena,” he added, describing participation in elections as not only a right, but a duty. The cleric further echoed a call by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who urged both supporters and critics of the government to participate in the June 14 elections. On Friday, polls officially opened in Iran for presidential as well as city and rural councils elections at 8:00 a.m. (0330 GMT). Later in the day, the Interior Ministry extended the original 10-hour deadline by two hours due to a massive voter turnout. President of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research Hassan Rohani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi make up the six candidates running in the presidential election. Over 200,000 candidates are also running for city and rural councils elections.