When presidential elections were held in June 2021, scores of eligible voters again boycotted, either because they saw that the Guardian Council had intervened to sway the election in favor of the far-right conservative Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi or because they were disillusioned over the prospects for reform after eight years of Rouhani. Rouhani had disappointed his supporters, many of whom hailed from the urban middle class, as they desired fundamental political and social freedoms that Khamenei would never permit.
The Guardian Council disqualified even prominent pragmatic conservative candidates, such as former Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, whose credentials did not sufficiently indicate hardline opposition to the West and commitment to the Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council thereby engineered the election victory of Ebrahim Raisi, a Khamenei protégé and potential successor to the Supreme Leader. Of the 585 figures who sought to run for the presidency, the Guardian Council permitted seven candidates to stand for election, none of which were reformist or moderate. Raisi soon emerged as the front-runner, and handily won the election, receiving 18 million of the 28.9 million ballots cast. A mere 48.8 percent of voters turned out.