Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Dutch-Iranians queue to vote in first Iranian election since nuclear deal

Dutch-Iranians queue to vote in first Iranian election since nuclear deal

"I am here with three of my friends, of the same mind, to vote for such values, not merely for nan (bread) and Ab (water), although they are key issues of life as well", Taherkhani said, smiling and standing in the queue outside of the iconic mosque of Tehran, Hosseinieh Ershad, since the early hours when the polls opened.

"If you then have a tougher voice in Tehran, I think that's going to increase the pace at which tensions escalate", he added. "Now, we (still) don't have freedom and don't have jobs".

"I'm voting for Rouhani to try to save my dignity". "My kids can not eat freedom", the municipality employee said in the northern city of Rasht. We need to defend the reforms, we need to defend the nuclear agreement, it may not have achieved everything we wanted quickly, but there has been positive effects in fields like where I work, oil and gas.

"I cast my vote already - I voted for Raisi because he is a follower of Imam Khamenei". Inflation has dropped to single digits but unemployment is still rising. If neither candidate is the clear victor, a second round of voting will be held next week.

Iran's presidential election began at 8 a.m. on Friday as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his vote in the ballot box. Some observers read that as a thinly veiled attack on President Rouhani and his attacks on Raisi.

"Any candidate who is elected should be helped to accomplish this heavy responsibility", Rouhani said. Hardliners dominating the judiciary and security services have stood in the way, his defenders say.

According to their report, an initial field of over 1,600 hopefuls registered to run in the election but a 12-member panel vetted the candidates and narrowed the field to six, including Rouhani.

Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate reformist cleric and proponent of normalized relations between Iran and the rest of the world.

More than 30 percent of Iran's 80 million population are under age 30 and women comprise more than half the population.

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The major disappointment among most of Rouhani's supporters seems to be unemployment.

An example is Kourosh Sedgi, a 25-year-old student in the central city of Isfahan.

Iranian elections are run by the country's Interior Ministry, which oversees the nation's police forces. "Rouhani has failed to bring changes".

Under the Islamic Republic's law, men can divorce their spouses far more easily than women, while custody of children over the age of seven automatically goes to the father. But the result will be decided by the voters choosing between Mr Rouhani and Mr Raisi. "Rouhani's policies over the past four years have endangered our Islamic Revolution".

Despite the removal of nuclear-related sanctions in 2016, lingering unilateral USA sanctions that target Iran's record on human rights and terrorism have kept foreign companies wary of investing in Iran, limiting the economic benefits so far.

Raisi struck a populist tone, railing against corruption while promising to fix Iran's lumbering economy and boost welfare payments to the poor. "We know how big a support Raisi has, look at the numbers at all the rallies".

Sidelined by the nuclear deal, the Guards hope that a Raisi victory would let them claw back economic and political clout lost in the complex theocratic and republican power structure.

Despite the removal of nuclear-related sanctions in 2016, lingering unilateral US sanctions that target Iran's record on human rights and terrorism have kept many foreign companies wary of putting stakes in the Iranian market.

Rouhani in particular was at the intellectual forefront of Iran's move to the economic right as head of the Center for Strategic Research, and he has espoused a critical view on minimum wages and labor unions, while general state policy under his administration has been to promote economic development through foreign direct investment rather than state-oriented pro-growth economic policies and government interventionism.

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