TEHRAN — Iran’s ultraconservative judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, looked certain to become the country’s next president on Saturday after an election that many voters skipped, seeing it as rigged in his favor.
The semiofficial news agency Fars, citing the head of the election commission, said that with 90 percent of the vote counted Mr. Raisi had won 17 million of the 28 million votes tabulated. Two rival candidates have conceded, and President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Mr. Raisi for the victory on Saturday, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported.
Huge swaths of moderate and liberal-leaning Iranians sat out the election, saying that the campaign had been engineered to put Mr. Raisi in office or that voting would make little difference. He had been expected to win handily despite late attempts by the more-moderate reformist camp to consolidate support behind their main candidate — Abdolnasser Hemmati, a former central bank governor.
There was no immediate word on voter turnout. But if 28 million votes amounted to 90 percent of the ballots cast, then only about 31 million people would have voted. That would be a significant decline from the last presidential election, in 2017.. The number of eligible voters is 59 million, according to Mehr, an official news agency.
Mr. Raisi, 60, is a hard-line cleric favored by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and has been seen as his possible successor. He has a record of grave human rights abuses, including accusations of playing a role in the mass execution of political opponents in 1988, and is currently under United States sanctions.
His background appears unlikely to hinder the renewed negotiations between the United States and Iran over restoring a 2015 agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in exchange for lifting American economic sanctions. Mr. Raisi has said he will remain committed to the deal and do all he can to remove sanctions.
Key policies such as the nuclear deal are decided by the supreme leader, who has the last word on all important matters of state. However, Mr. Raisi’s conservative views will make it more difficult for the United States to reach additional deals with Iran and extract concessions on critical issues such as the country’s missile program, its backing of proxy militias around the Middle East and human rights.
To his supporters, Mr. Raisi’s close identification with the supreme leader, and by extension with the Islamic Revolution that brought Iran’s clerical leaders to power in 1979, is part of his appeal. Campaign posters showed Mr. Raisi’s face alongside those of Mr. Khamenei and his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, or Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian commander whose death in an American airstrike last year prompted an outpouring of grief and anger among Iranians.
But Mr. Raisi’s supporters also cited his résumé as a staunch conservative, his promises to combat corruption, which many Iranians blame as much for the country’s deep economic misery as American sanctions, and what they said was his commitment to leveling inequality among Iranians.
Voter turnout appeared to have been low despite…