Wariness in Tehran Ahead of Presidential Results

Owen Stevens
May 20, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has a clear lead in the presidential election, according to preliminary official results.

In a press conference, Ali Asghar Ahmadi, head of election committee said that Rouhani had 14.6 million votes, followed by Ebrahim Raisi who had 10.1 million votes. "Regional nations have pinned their eyes, with praise and envy, on people's turnout in the Friday election to once again witness the grandeur of the Iranian nation, the freedom of the Islamic establishment and the religious democracy", he said on Friday after casting his vote.

In addition to the presidential election, Iranian voters also participated in the Village Councils Elections, which started simultaneously at 08:00 am local time.

Large number of Iranians lined up in the polling stations on Friday to decide on the presidential seat for the next four years.

Rouhani has thus gained 56.88 percent of the votes so far, compared to 38.55 percent for Raeisi. The Interior Ministry had extended the voting three times in one of the country's most tightly contested elections.

The strong margin for Rouhani will, if it holds, be enough to give him an outright victory and avoid a two-person runoff next Friday.

The rest of the candidates trailed far behind Rouhani and Raisi, with Mostafa Mirsalim getting 455,211 votes and Mostafa Hashem Taba 210,597 votes at the latest count.

Rouhani came to power in the June 2013 presidential elections, succeeding hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a landslide victory.

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Rouhani's main challenger is Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and former prosecutor who is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Guards and other hardliners had hoped that a win for Raisi would have given them an opportunity to safeguard economic and political power they see as jeopardised by the lifting of sanctions and opening of the country to foreign investment.

The re-election is likely to safeguard the nuclear agreement Rouhani's government reached with global powers in 2015, under which most worldwide sanctions have been lifted in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

In Tehran, whose liberal and affluent voters form the bedrock of support for Rouhani, lines at some precincts were much longer than those in his 2013 win.

All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists.

That hasn't stopped those at Rouhani rallies from shouting for the release of the house-arrested leaders of the 2009 Green Movement.

The position of president is a powerful post. Opposition websites have said Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi both have endorsed Rouhani against Raisi.

Other reports by VgToday

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