Kurdish voters head outside a polling station in Iranian Kurdistan wait to cast their vote. Photo: Mehr News Agency.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Over 58 percent of eligible voters have cast their ballots in the four predominately Kurdish provinces in Iran, despite Kurdish opposition groups’ joint call to boycott the votes in the run up to the polls in April, preliminary statistics from the election committees show.
Iran held simultaneous elections for the post of the president and legislative seats in city councils across the country on Friday.
Kermanshah province, a mainly Kurdish region with large Persian speaking populations had over 75 percent turnout, well above national average of around 73 percent.
The lowest turnout among Kurdish provinces was recorded in Kurdistan province (Sine) where 1,181 million were eligible to vote of which 58 percent cast their ballots, according to the provincial authorities.
Local media quoted Kurdistan Governor Abdulmohammad Zahedi as saying that 73% of the voters in his province voted for the reformist President Hassan Rouhani, way higher than the national average of 57%.
The voter turnout was around 70 percent in both provinces of Western Azarbaijan, where Kurdish and Turkish-speaking Azaris have long clashed over influence, and in Ilam province where around 341,000 were eligible to vote.
“Without a doubt, Kurdistan people’s wise action to go to the polls, will be preserved in the collective memory of Iran; an event that every Iranian Kurd should feel proud of for centuries to come,” said Kurdistan Governor Zahedi said in a written statement showing appreciation for what he described as “historic turnout.”
Iran’s exiled main Kurdish opposition groups in April jointly called on Kurdish voters to boycott the general elections in the country describing the May elections as “a masquerade” staged by “a regime that has deprived the human and just rights” of the people in Iran’s Kurdistan.
President Rouhani who received over 70 percent of the votes in Kurdish areas in 2013 elections, is believed to have won the bulk of Kurdish votes Friday.
Addressing domestic affairs as he delivered his victory speech Saturday, Rouhani said that the Kurds, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious components all headed to the polls proving that they are all one “united nation” that go beyond the class, ethnic or geographic differences.
“You are one nation, have one state, want one president who can be the president of all people, and serve all peopl," he said in a televised speech following his reelection for the second term in office.
He celebrated the diversity in Iran calling it “the land full of stars”.
Final results announced by Iran's interior ministry Saturday showed President Hassan Rouhani leading far ahead of his conservative rival with 57% of the votes, or nearly 23 million votes out of more than 40 million votes cast on Friday's general elections.
His conservative rival Rbrahim Raisi, who is said to have close ties with the Supreme Leader, had complained about what he called irregularities committed by Rouhani's campaign.
There was a high turnout of 70% that seems to have favoured Rouhani's win, with voting extended three times lasting until midnight, as permitted by the election law.